Monday, July 22, 2024

Belfast boasts best shop footfall of UK cities in June

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The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) said footfall was up 3.7% in the city year on year — a healthier performance than the slight footfall growth of 0.7% reported in May.

But across Northern Ireland, footfall in shops and shopping centres dropped by 0.6% — still an improvement on a 3% decline in May.

And in shopping centres alone, footfall was down 1.6% in June, slightly worse than the 1.5% decline in May.

Across the UK, there was an average decline of 2.3%.

Belfast’s performance in June was well ahead of cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool, which reported increases in footfall of 2.4%, 2.2% and 1.1% respectively.

Neil Johnston, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said retailers would be encouraged by the figures.

“Although Northern Ireland had negative year-on-year footfall, it performed better than England and Wales and only slighter worse than Scotland.

“Belfast performed the best out of all major cities in the UK, and for the past three or so months the footfall has been very good compared to other cities.

“So, while overall the retail environment remains extremely challenging, retailers in Northern Ireland are clearly working hard to entice shoppers. Retailers won’t be leaping with joy at these figures but may be encouraged by them.”

He said entertainment may well have benefited the retail sector in June. “The Belfast figures may well be boosted by the recent series of concerts and by tourism.

“In addition to the usual wave of cruise ships, recent times have shown very strong numbers of people coming up from the Republic.”

Belfast’s 3.7% increase in footfall compared favourably with Cardiff, which was down 5.1%, and London, down 2.5%,

Mr Johnston said: “It is a fact that food, alcohol and fuel are increasingly competitively priced in relation to the prices in the south so hopefully this will continue to encourage shoppers to come north.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, which helps compile the data, said: “June’s footfall saw an improvement in performance compared to last month, with the rain finally giving way to drier and sunnier weather and helping to deliver an ambient boost to shopper traffic.

“However, while edging up compared to May, store visits remain marginally down compared to 2023, suggesting a recovery in shopper traffic has yet fully to turn a corner.

“Retailers will be hoping that major sporting events, including Wimbledon and the Paris Olympics, provide positive opportunities to entice shoppers into store.”

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