Northern Irish footfall declines, despite a resurgance in cross-border shopping

Its retail sector has been described as 'volatile'...

Northern Irish footfall declines, despite a resurgance in cross-border shopping

PETER AP/Press Association Images

New research has found that footfall fell on Northern Ireland's high streets last month, despite a surge in shoppers from the Republic of Ireland heading North in search of deals.

5% less people were out and about shopping during the month, this is the second month in a row which has seen a decline.

However, the amount of shoppers hitting shopping centers rose by 0.4% - that's a turnaround from a -0.9% fall last year. This figure could include some of these shoppers from 'the South.'

Springboard marketing who carried out the research reflects that footfall across Northern Ireland has been "volatile."

The number of vacant shops across the six counties fell to 14.5% - that's down from 15.3% in July. The Belfast Telegraph notes that this is the highest vacancy rate anywhere in the UK.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: "Whilst a boost in luxury sales due to the weak pound has been widely reported, this is not reflected in increased footfall as it is driven by higher value purchases."

"The vacancy rate always lags behind trends in footfall and sales due to the stickiness of the property market, and so the improvement is likely to be a response to rises in high street footfall that occurred over the summer ... In order to avoid an increase in vacancies post-Christmas, it is critical for retailers - and retail destinations - to deliver the best in class in terms of both price and experience."

Loading up

Goodbody reported two weeks ago that sterling's fall has resulted in the return of Irish shoppers heading north of the border in search of bargains.

The stockbrokers have been analysing traffic flows and Irish shoppers are heading to Northern Ireland. In the post-vote period the level of traffic going to the six counties has been 9% higher.

At peak times the traffic flows have increased by up to 29% - this figure is early on Saturday mornings, which is "consistent with a leisurely weekend sojourn from South to North" according to the report.

The analysts claim that this is one of the first concrete studies showing the negative impact of Brexit on the Irish economy.