Shoppers fade away in June says NIRC

Any Brexit impact on shopping trends remains unknown as yet
Any Brexit impact on shopping trends remains unknown as yet

Retail footfall in Northern Ireland decreased by 2.5% in June, reversing the rise seen in May according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC).

The figure, below the three-month average of -1.7% and 12-month average of -2.0%, was less pronounced than eslewhere in the UK said NIRC director Aodhán Connolly.

“The recovery in shopper numbers witnessed in May proved short-lived, with footfall in Northern Ireland’s shopping destinations easing back again last month.

“It’s too early to say with certainty what lasting impact the Brexit vote will have on consumer and business confidence in Northern Ireland, however what is clear is that the devolved administration ought to re-double its efforts to keep down the cost of living and the cost of doing business.

“Retailers and other firms are already having to grapple with a hotchpotch of government-imposed cost rises such as the new Apprenticeship Levy, the national living wage, higher employer pension contributions, and business rates which have been ratcheted up year after year with little regard to trading or economic conditions.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director with research firm Springboard, said: “With such major political and economic news in June, it is unsurprising that the UK as a whole had the poorest monthly result for more than two years.

“Most significant is the decline in out of town footfall across the UK for the first month since December 2013. These results are shaped by one dominant theme and tell a story of two halves - pre and post EU Referendum - a political and economic storm against a backdrop of rain downpours and generally inclement weather throughout the whole month.

“Although footfall worsened leading up to the referendum across the UK, in Northern Ireland it improved from a low of -7.6 per cent in the second week of the month to -1.8 per cent in the week of the referendum. Post referendum week however, footfall fell markedly by 7.3 per cent.

“In the last three weeks of the month high street footfall in Northern Ireland dropped by -5.1 per cent compared with just -2.2 per cent last year. Whilst poor weather will explain some of this performance, it is more likely consumers held off spending in the immediate aftermath - the issue for retailers is how quickly shoppers will return to their usual behavioural patterns.”