Retailers in Northern Ireland are seeing a decrease in footfall for the third month running, according to analysts Springboard. Fewer people are frequenting high streets and shopping centres in the north, causing frustration for shop owners.
New data from Springboard has revealed that footfall in Northern Ireland dropped 3.7% year-on-year in March, marking the third month in a row of falling figures. These numbers are below the three-month average of -2.7% and the 12-month average of -0.9%.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “The volatility of footfall in Northern Ireland continued to be evident in March, with drops in both high street and shopping centre footfall of 3.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively.
“March was the second consecutive month with a decline in Northern Ireland’s high street footfall, and the third for its shopping centres, but given the historic trend for swings in footfall from positive to negative and back again, it is too early to state categorically that its retail destinations are under strain.
“However, the results for Northern Ireland do contrast sharply with increases in high street and shopping centre footfall across the UK, which rose against thanks mainly to a 1.3 per cent increase in people out during the post 5pm period. Footfall actually dropped during the normal trading hours of 9am to 5pm.”
Wehrle said, “Consumer confidence and inflation have worsened from last year, which is likely to be constraining shoppers’ willingness to spend on retail goods. This all lends further evidence to the fact that retail is no longer the sole driver of footfall, with a strong leisure/hospitality offer being a critical element to secure retail success.”
Issues surrounding Brexit and its impact on consumer confidence, as well as the current lack of a functioning Executive in the north, may be impacting the figures. The political situation in Northern Ireland has caused particular problems for retailers, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC).
NIRC director Aodhán Connolly said: “This latest fall really does reflect that 2017 has been a tough year so far for retail.
"And this third consecutive month of decline - which has been across the board in high streets, retail parks and shopping centres - shows that the political and economic instability here can only have a detrimental effect on consumer confidence and spend.
"However, given retailers’ resilience, they have responded to the challenges head-on and remain focussed on continuing to deliver great choice and value to their customers."
Connolly said, “This same focus is what we would like to see from our politicians in the next few weeks as the window for an agreement closes. We can be unequivocal in saying our industry believes that devolved government for Northern Ireland is worth having and has delivered results.
“We need it back up and running as soon as possible not only for our industry and others, but for the Northern Ireland consumer who already has half of the discretionary spend of our GB neighbours.
“Our members already support the Government in areas as diverse as employment, health and the economy. But we need to have an Executive working for a common purpose - that of making Northern Ireland a better place to do business, to invest and to live.”
© 2017 - Checkout Magazine by Donncha Mac Cóil