Northern Ireland Retail Sees an Encouraging Rise in Footfall
Things are looking up for retailers in Northern Ireland after a good summer season which saw more people hitting the shops and a climb in the number of stores opening.
The latest figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) show there was a rise in footfall of 0.5% in July, with the numbers showing a bigger increase in customer numbers in the country than the UK average, which was just 0.3%.
It’s particularly encouraging news for businesses after wet weather over the start of the summer meant a disappointing June, when there was a drop of 2.5% in people coming through the doors.
More Shops Opening
The really good news for retailers and shoppers alike is that there now seems to be more choice on the high street and in out-of-town developments. The NIRC statistics suggest more shops are now opening, with the number of vacant stores dropping from 16.1% previously to 15.3%.
It’s a major boost for bricks-and-mortar businesses given the ever growing popularity of online shopping from the comfort of your own home. But the lack atmosphere and experience you get on your phone, tablet or laptop compared to hitting the high street could actually be helping to fuel the rise.
Real shops offer sights, sounds and a tactile experience you just can’t get on the internet – one where you can actually see and feel the goods you’re considering.
A Return to the Shopping Experience
So perhaps we’re seeing a rise in shoppers returning to stores in Northern Ireland as a leisure experience, going either alone or with friends to browse and enjoy the personal touch you only get from buying from real people in an exciting space.
With a number of stores now more conscious of the overall look and feel of their brand, many are choosing more design-led interiors like those created by Designco to create a unique experience for their customers.
We’re also seeing more craft and artisan stores opening, with smaller producers making the move from websites to retail units. They all offer products you might struggle to find online. Dublin shop design influences are also moving north to offer something different to clients.
Overall, it’s encouraging news during challenging times for both business and personal finances.