Footfall figures continue to dive
The latest official footfall figures for Northern Ireland paint a sobering picture, with the numbers visiting retail destinations down by 14.7 per cent last month compared to the pre-pandemic June of 2019.
Data from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and Sensormatic, which for meaningful comparisons are benchmarked against 2019 levels, show that the overall 14.7 per cent June decline is worse than the UK average of 10.5 per cent.
Shopping centre footfall dipped by 13.2 per cent in June (Yo3Y), further weakening on the decline of 12.8 per cent in May, while in Belfast was down 15.1 per cent, some 1.5 percentage points worse than May (only Carlisle and Leeds performed worse).
David Lonsdale, head of devolved nations at the British Retail Consortium and the spokesman for NIRC, said: “June’s retail footfall decline in Northern Ireland was out-of-line with the other nations in the UK, which all saw modest rises, compared to the 1.8 per cent fall here.
“But shopping centre footfall remained relatively static down by 13.2 per cent and consequently continues to outperform the rest of the UK on that metric.”
He added: “Belfast’s recent footfall improvement has come to a halt with a 1.5 per cent fall in June, which means footfall was down 15.1 per cent compared to 2019. This provides some early evidence the worries we saw last month on customer concern on the cost of living is being reflected in fewer shopping trips.
“Retailers will be concerned that the summer weather and approaching holiday season aren’t translating into increased shopper visits to high streets and shopping centres.
“And whilst they will continue to strive to attract consumers, there is an increasing need for an Executive is in place to take actions to support consumers through the cost-of-living crisis and to help the retail industry continue its slow recovery from the pandemic.”
Andy Sumpter from Sensormatic Solutions said: “June was a rollercoaster ride for the high street. This mixed bag of footfall performance will do little to allay retailers’ concerns as the cost-of-living and inflationary pressures continue to weigh heavy in the public consciousness.
“Retailers will be hoping that, even if consumers shop less frequently, they will be more considered in their purchases to drive up conversion when they do come into store.”