With one in five local shops empty (NIRC shop vacancy study), it is Northern Ireland that has the highest vacancy rate in the whole of the UK. If not for pop up shops and charity shops, the high streets would be full of empty premises.
Aodhan Connolly of The Retail Consortium said “The good news is that footfall is up – but by the same token questions need to be asked as to why that is not translating into sales. We did have a bit of growth for September but now, coming into Christmas, it is a very worrying time for retailers as far as what people are spending goes.”
Meanwhile the NI Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) is pushing for the Executive to take urgent action in light these disturbing figures. “The Executive needs a new joined up strategy to tackle this problem, alongside comprehensive retail development plans for each town and city to reverse this decline. NIIRTA has already published a 50 point plan, Town Centre First, setting out our ideas and we will continue to bring solutions to Ministers on this issue” said Chief Executive Glyn Roberts.