Northern Irish Footfall Continues To Decline In August
Consumer footfall in Northern Ireland experienced a decline of 2.3% in August, compared to an increase of 2.5% in August 2016, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC).
This figure represents a further decline on July's rate of -2%, and is in line with the three month average of -2.3%.
Retail parks, shopping centres, and high street stores in Northern Ireland have all experienced three consecutive months of declines.
"This is another underwhelming performance for Northern Ireland when compared to the rest of the UK, with our shopper footfall numbers again being rock bottom of the league table," said NIRC director Aodhán Connolly.
"Most disappointing is that Northern Ireland has now seen a full quarter of footfall decline across all three areas measured, high streets, retail parks and shopping centres, and at a faster rate of decline than over the past year as a whole."
Connolly added that tempting shoppers back into stores is crucial, by improving services, ranges pricing and promotions.
"However what we also need is renewed consumer confidence and greater certainty which would flow from the restoration of political leadership and devolved government here in NI," he said.
"As the only part of the UK that has a land border with the EU, we also need Westminster to secure a fair Brexit for consumers in Northern Ireland by ensuring that ordinary shoppers aren’t hit with the cost of unwanted new tariffs."
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard suggests that these subdued figures are partially due to a rise in online shopping.
Online sales values rose by 11% in August, representing the greatest rise this year, and significantly up from the 8.3% increase in July.
"In part the rise in online activity will have been a result of much cooler, rainy weather this August than in 2016 which undoubtedly discouraged some shopping trips," said Wehrle.
"However, it is also a function of increasing inflationary pressures, driving consumers online in a search for lower prices which is likely to only become more significant as inflation continues to increase its bite on household budgets."
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.