NI footfall rises for second month

Published Monday, 19 May 2014
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Northern Ireland retailers have seen a boost in business as footfall rose by 12.8% in April.

It is the highest recorded figure for the region since the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) began its new series in December 2012 - however it was against negative footfall in April 2013.

It was the second month in a row that NI saw positive growth year on year.

The rate of vacant shops improved marginally and is now at 17.2%.

There was a 0.1% decrease in UK footfall for the month.

Aodhán Connolly, NIRC Director, said the figures were "positive" but advised an "air of caution".

"This double digit growth combined with it being the second month in a row that we have seen positive growth in footfall across Northern Ireland is a significant portent to the rise of consumer confidence as well as a more buoyant economy, and they demonstrate the fantastic work that has been done by retailers to tempt shoppers into their stores," he said.

"We believe that an obvious reason is that in April 2013 Northern Ireland was only one of two regions across the UK that recorded a decline in footfall whilst in all other parts of the UK footfall increased annually. So this result is at least in part a bounce back from a poor result last year.

"However the continuing fall of unemployment in Northern Ireland for 15 continuous months as well as a feel good factor across business means that this could be a sign of a growing economy here."

Mr Connolly continued: "There has also been good news on vacancy rates, which although they are higher than the UK average, are continuing to drop quarter on quarter.

"There are really positive signs but until we have a full quarter which reflects the economic buoyancy then we cannot assume that retail in Northern Ireland is on the rise.

"What we do know is that there is still work to be done, by retailers and all levels of government, to ensure a sector that employs one in ten in Northern Ireland is a bedrock of our economic recovery."

© UTV News
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