The cost of living crisis is beginning to bite hard, with the fall in high street shoppers bringing further heartache for retailers in Northern Ireland. Retail shops had a terrible time during the pandemic and now they are facing a dramatic decrease in sales, due to consumers having less money in their pockets to spend. At least during the pandemic they had help from the government, but right now, with the Stormont Executive not even sitting, there is little hope for help on the horizon.
Footfall Down Over 14%
The latest figures, according to data from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and Sensormatic, show that there was a 14.7% decrease in footfall in June this year, compared to June 2019 before the pandemic hit our shores. Speaking about this decline in footfall in an article in the Irish News David Lonsdale, head of devolved nations at the British Retail Consortium and the spokesman for NIRC, said:
“June’s retail footfall decline in Northern Ireland was out-of-line with the other nations in the UK, which all saw modest rises, compared to the 1.8 per cent fall here.
“But shopping centre footfall remained relatively static down by 13.2 per cent and consequently continues to outperform the rest of the UK on that metric.”
He added: “Belfast’s recent footfall improvement has come to a halt with a 1.5 per cent fall in June, which means footfall was down 15.1 per cent compared to 2019. This provides some early evidence the worries we saw last month on customer concern on the cost of living is being reflected in fewer shopping trips.
“Retailers will be concerned that the summer weather and approaching holiday season aren’t translating into increased shopper visits to high streets and shopping centres.
“And whilst they will continue to strive to attract consumers, there is an increasing need for an Executive is in place to take actions to support consumers through the cost-of-living crisis and to help the retail industry continue its slow recovery from the pandemic.”
Cost Of Living And Inflationary Pressures Continue To Weigh Heavy
And in the same article Andy Sumpter from Sensormatic Solutions said: “June was a rollercoaster ride for the high street. This mixed bag of footfall performance will do little to allay retailers’ concerns as the cost-of-living and inflationary pressures continue to weigh heavy in the public consciousness.
“Retailers will be hoping that, even if consumers shop less frequently, they will be more considered in their purchases to drive up conversion when they do come into store.”
Tough times for all retail businesses right now. Our independent retailers are the glue that holds all our communities together so it is vitally important that they are supported as much as possible so that they can continue to serve the public and thrive in days to come.