It was better late than never for many retailers in Northern Ireland in the Boxing Day sales as footfall increased significantly from the previous year. The increase in shoppers on a year to year basis was higher than any other region in the UK, but this is perhaps not that surprising as here we had tighter Covid restrictions in December of last year than the other regions. Footfall was up by a whopping 421% from December 26th 2021.
Hopefully The Upturn In Footfall Translates Into Increased Sales
The upturn in footfall on Boxing Day will hopefully be replicated during the coming days and into the new year to give a welcome boost to all the local independent retailers across the country. Speaking about the upturn in the Belfast Telegraph Glyn Roberts of Retail NI said: “I spoke to a few retailers, and they are reasonably happy. This is the first year of no restrictions so we hope footfall turns into increased sales – 2023 is going to be incredibly challenging. While footfall figures are up, the sales figures will be the most critical economic indicator when they are published in January.”
He also went on to say that: “With 2023 I do worry that unless people are supporting those smaller shops we could see a domino effect on the high street with hundreds of small businesses closing. We can’t allow a domino effect of high street closures as once that starts it is hard to reverse.”
He said: “People are out and about but not always buying. They are sometimes looking or going to a pub or restaurant.”
Retailers would await the concrete sales data in the new year, Mr Roberts said.
The Christmas period was a “make or break time” for shops, he said.
There Is A Lot Of Ground To Make Up From The Pandemic
“It is vital. There is a lot of ground to make up from the pandemic. There is also the cost of living and cost of business, and the most expensive business rates in UK.
“But I am hopeful that footfall turns into increased sales because this is the first year of no restrictions. Next year, 2023, is going to be incredibly challenging.”
He added: “Now more than ever we need people to support independent retailers, 70p in every pound spent in them is recycled around the local economy.”
We do need people to support retailers, Mr Roberts is certainly correct in that, but people need to have some spare cash in their pockets to do so. Unfortunately for the majority that is in rather short supply right now.