Northern Ireland’s footfall drops back again in February
Northern Ireland’s footfall has declined in February, dropping away from relatively positive figures at the end of 2021, according to Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.
According to NIRC-Sensormatic IQ data, Northern Ireland footfall decreased by 15.5% in February year on two years (Yo2Y), 6.0 percentage points worse than January. This is worse than the UK average decline of 14.9% (Yo2Y).
Meanwhile, shopping centre footfall declined by 26.0% in February (Yo2Y) in Northern Ireland, an improvement on decline of 27.7% in January.
And in February, footfall in Belfast decreased by 17.8% (Yo2Y), 11.5 percentage points worse than January.
Since the pandemic started, much of retail has bounced between being open and closed, impacting footfall significantly. To make meaningful comparisons to changes in footfall, all figures since March 2021 are compared to their pre-pandemic levels (year-on-2-years, Yo2Y), rather than year-on-year.
Aodhán Connolly, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, said: “Shopper footfall in Northern Ireland fell in February, compared to the same period prior to the pandemic. This was an underwhelming performance after three or four encouraging months and given the rescinding of Covid restrictions in the middle of the month. That said, the dip wasn’t uniform across all destinations as shopping centres saw a modest improvement during the month.
“Concerns about the cost of living may well have exerted a downward pressure on visits to stores. However, these figures do underline the protracted nature of the recovery and the need for continued support from policy makers particularly in the short-term to encourage and entice shoppers back. With much of our wider economy ultimately dependent on what happens to consumer spending it is crucial that the election manifestos of the political parties take a coherent approach to supporting the industry and the customers it serves.”
Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “While February’s shopper traffic fell back in Northern Ireland, the total footfall across the UK still leads the top 5 European markets’ footfall recovery, suggesting a collective growing confidence among shoppers.
“With UK Governments announcing the further easing and ending of Covid restrictions, this represents what many, not least retailers, hope will be the ‘beginning of the end’ of the Covid crisis. Our latest data shows consumer concern about in-store safety fell by -18 percentage points year-on-year – however, shoppers now face new and growing pressures.
“The cost-of-living squeeze and inflation, which is putting downward pressures on disposable income, and a volatile macroeconomic and geopolitical climate could create a perfect storm of uncertainty for consumers, which could still impact the long-term retail recovery as it looks to build back post-pandemic.”
MONTHLY TOTAL NORTHERN IRELAND RETAIL FOOTFALL (% CHANGE Yo2Y)
TOTAL FOOTFALL BY REGION (% CHANGE Yo2Y)
|GROWTH RANK||REGION||% GROWTH Yo2Y|
|1||North West England||-7.9|
|2||Yorkshire and the Humber||-10.1|
|4||East of England||-12.2|
|5||South West England||-12.7|
|7||North East England||-13.3|
|8||South East England||-13.7|
TOTAL FOOTFALL BY CITY (% CHANGE Yo2Y)
|GROWTH RANK||CITY||% GROWTH Yo2Y|