High street footfall up 21%

[14th May] As restrictions ease, shoppers have returned to high streets in NI in their droves, resulting in 21.5% increase in footfall last week. According to Springboard, the revival was more significant than high streets elsewhere in the UK, where footfall declined by 6.6% in the week beginning 2nd May.

Across the UK, retail parks remain the most resilient shopping destinations, a pattern observed throughout 2020-21. Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The ongoing resilience of retail parks throughout the pandemic in retaining shopper numbers meant that last week footfall in this destination type was only marginally below the 2019 pre-pandemic level.”

She added: “The 21.1% increase in Northern Ireland’s high streets last week was more modest than the 93.2% rise in UK high streets when stores reopened in England, and so we would anticipate that footfall in Northern Ireland will continue to rise into subsequent weeks.

Busiest week on record for Rushmere

Last week, Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon had its busiest bank holiday weekend on record, with over 136,000 visitors to the centre.

While the high street experienced big name losses as a result of the pandemic, there is hope for retail in Northern Ireland. Ms Wherle added: “Northern Ireland’s high streets may well be better insulated from the impact of the closure of high street names as they have a strong local profile with a good representation of independent retailers which provide variety in its retail offer.”

Shopping activity is heavily impacted by the weather, and with a poor outlook ahead, footfall numbers may have been affected in recent days.