Retail footfall declines in Northern Ireland at fastest rate in five years

BRITAIN-CHRISTMAS

Data compiled by analytics firm Springboard and published today showed that December's fall was the largest since March 2013, when footfall declined by 5.2 per cent.

Total footfall dropped 3.5pc in December compared with a year ago, the biggest fall since March 2013, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium and retail analysts Springboard, with high streets and shopping centres the hardest hit. This was below the three-month rolling average of minus 1.9% and the twelve month rolling average of minus 0.7%.

"Improved delivery options by both purely digital retailers and those with stores and an online offer mean many purchases of last-minute gifts are moving online".

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that while sales grew overall, the sharp drop in footfall underlines how shopping is being transformed by the shift to online. "Retailers offered lower prices at the beginning of December than previous year on many of their non-food ranges, providing welcome options for Christmas shoppers on a stretched budget", she added.

"While Northern Ireland did not fare as poorly as other parts of the United Kingdom, this further drop in footfall here means we have now witnessed seven months of consecutive decline which has been felt across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres".


"The squeeze on discretionary spending also contributed to the decline in footfall". For non-food retailers; like-for-like sales fell by 4.4 per cent, the most dramatic decline recorded by the BRC since it started collecting sales data in December 2012.

Retail footfall in Northern Ireland fell by 3.1% in December compared to a 2.4% decline in November as the province experienced its seventh consecutive month of decline.

Retailers suffered in the run-up to Christmas as shoppers steered clear of the high street and margins were squeezed by higher costs, Black Friday discounts and online shopping.

"Retailers need to focus on maximising conversion via the core deliverable of best product and customer service with an improved in-store experience, whilst holding their nerve and resisting discounting too early", the director said.

Among London-listed retailers to have already reported their Christmas performance, Debenhams PLC and Mothercare PLC issued profit warnings, while Marks & Spencer Group PLC disappointed with a year-on-year revenue decline.

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