The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium’s Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor showed positive figures once again for Northern Irish retailers. Footfall increased 2.5% in August, an improvement on the 0.5% increase of July.
This marks the best footfall performance since May 2016, although the 3-moth average was flat, and the 12 month average was down -1.2%.
Aodhán Connolly, Director, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said: “Though this is the fourth time this year that Northern Ireland’s footfall figures have beaten the national UK average we cannot be complacent about how the retail industry is faring in Northern Ireland.
“The Executive has the power to make Northern Ireland a more competitive place to do business and they should take the opportunity to exercise it. Our number one priority is the reform of Business Rates where our industry pays over 22% of the total business rates burden while being only 12% of the economy here. Our members employ over 55,000 people in Northern Ireland and many more jobs are created and sustained through the supply chain. For us to continue to invest, employ and play our integral part in the NI economy and communities, business rates need to be equitable.
“Our message to the Minister for Finance and the Executive is simple. We need a fair deal for retail,” he concluded.
Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard, said: “Compared with a rise in footfall across the UK of just +0.1%, an increase of +2.5% in Northern Ireland is heartening news for retailers; particularly as it is the second month in a row in which footfall has been in positive territory. With an average rise of +1% over the four months from May, emanating from increases in three of the four months, it is much more favourable position for Northern Ireland's retail destinations than in the same four months of 2015 when the average stood at -2.7%.
“August saw an influx of tourists and a return of the staycation in the UK as 5.1 m Brits decided to holiday at home over the bank holiday weekend. Whilst increased footfall didn’t translate to sales for many, coastal towns saw an improvement of -2.2% in Jul/Aug vs -4% in Jul/Aug 2015 and many retailers will be hoping that the tourism boom continues on the high street as we head into the Autumn.
“With a footfall rise of just +0.4% compared with +1.7% in August 2015, all signs are pointing to a diminishing rate of increase in retail parks. However, this trend has only been in evidence over the last four months, with an average increase of +0.1% since May compared with +2.2% between May-August in 2015. A kneejerk reaction might be to assume a post Brexit impact, however, improved averages for high streets and shopping centres over the same four months this year do not wholly bear this out. More likely is that many noticeable enhancements in key out of town locations, which drove significant uplifts over the past two years, are already in place. Going forward retail parks may face similar challenges as high streets and shopping centres in delivering incremental growth in footfall,” she remarked.
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Donncha Mac Cóil