Christmas fails to get tills jingling in Northern Ireland

Online shopping in Northern Ireland is affecting bricks and mortar retailers

Footfall on Northern Ireland's high streets in November 8% lower than the previous year

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14 December 2015 | 0

While IBEC’s Retail Ireland has predicted the best Christmas since 2008 in the Republic of Ireland, with 3.5% more spent in shops this festive season compared to last year, things are not looking so rosy in the north.

New figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and the Springboard group show that in November, the number of shoppers on Northern Ireland’s high streets dropped by 8% compared to the previous year. In fact, Northern Ireland was the worst performing region in the UK.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Diane Wehrle from Springboard said Northern Ireland needed to make things easier for shoppers. In 2016, she said, urban shopping destinations needed to “focus on cracking the perennial issue of convenient parking options for shoppers”.

Aodhán Connolly, director of the NI Retail Consortium, noted that in the past two years, online shopping in the north had caught up “somewhat with our counterparts in GB”.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that while this affected bricks and mortar retail, “it should also be seen as an opportunity for our towns and cities to focus their minds on how we encourage consumers not only to spend their hard-earned cash on the high street but spend their time there” through greater accessibility and a focus on “the great pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities”.

However, despite the overall situation, Belfast’s Victoria Square shopping centre appears to be trading well, with centre manager, Michelle Greeves, saying they expect “the next 13 days will be the busiest we’ve seen”.

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