Northern Ireland’s high street looks set for a £25 million (€28.5 million) cash injection next year as part of the UK government’s £675 million initiative to transform local high streets.
As reported by The Irish Times, Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said that businesses could fold before the fund is even rolled out.
While the “Future high Streets Fund” aims to future proof the sector, Connolly believes that the financial stress from the fire and the drop in footfall will make it a case of too little too late.
“The £2 million from the budget must be filtered immediately to those who need it most if we are to stop what could be irreversible damage to our retail and hospitality hub. Three businesses have already closed and another two are in dire straits, there is real anger and frustration among retailers and time is of the essence to ensure that businesses in Belfast get the support they need,” Connolly said.
“December is a crucial month for retailers - it usually accounts for 12.5% of all sales but if affected businesses in Belfast city centre cannot open soon and we cannot recover shopper footfall numbers it could mean the difference between businesses being able to stay open and further closures into 2019.”
Three businesses have closed in the city already since the Primark fire, with 14 standing with a safety cordon erected around them, preventing them from trading.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.