There were heartening results for Northern Irish retailers this month as the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium's Springboard Footfall And Vacancies Monitor for July 2016 shows that footfall in Northern Ireland increased 0.5% in July, which is three percentage points better than the 2.5% decline in June.
This is the second time in three months that footfall in Northern Ireland has increased with a weak sterling possibly playing a significant role in that rise thanks to an increase in cross-border shopping. The 0.5% rise is above the 3-month average of 0.3% and 12-month average of -1.6% and shows significant signs of improvement after a few difficult months in the North.
In other good news, it was revealed that the retail unit vacancy rate fell to 15.3% in July, a 0.8% improvement on April's total of 16.1%.
Aodhán Connolly, Director, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said; “These results are heartening for Northern Ireland’s retail industry, with a welcome reduction in the shop premises vacancy rate after a slight dip last quarter as well as a small but still significant rise in footfall. Indeed footfall has risen in two of the past three months showing that retailers are meeting head on the structural changes to the industry including the ongoing popularity of online retailing.
"While again it is encouraging to see vacancy rates fall in two of the past three quarters, it remains to be seen whether this reflects units being taken up on a temporary or more sustained basis.
“The Governments in Westminster and in Stormont must also provide certainty as soon as possible on the effects that Brexit will have here. As the only part of the UK with a land border to the Eurozone, it is imperative that we as an industry can plan effectively for the changes that will invariably come,” he concluded.
Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard, also commented, saying; “July saw a break in the clouds in some retail areas, with better weather and strong end of sale discounting of up to 70 per cent off, helping to improve high street footfall in Northern Ireland which was up 0.5 per cent compared with 0.3 per cent across the UK, and an improvement on the drop of 2.8 per cent in June.
“Unlike the UK, where vacancies increased by 0.5 percentage points to 10.1 per cent, the vacancy rate in Northern Ireland dropped by 0.8 percentage point. And while it still stands at 15.3 per cent, the scale of its improvement now means that it no longer has the highest rate than any area of the UK, the mantle which has now been passed to the North & Yorkshire region.
"The next quarter’s figures will be the ones to watch to get a clear picture on any continued increase in vacancy rates, which would be concerning for town centres across the UK,” she added.
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Niall Swan