The rebound in attendance has started – but a lot of work remains to be done
Gary McDonald company editor
04 June 2021 01:00
Although footfall is still far from its pre-pandemic levels, there has been a steady improvement with each passing month as the company unlocks and shoppers return to physical stores, according to new figures from the industry.
But retail chief Aodhán Connolly believes policymakers need to think more creatively about how they could rekindle consumer confidence and ensure a return to dynamism in cities and town centers. North.
New data from Sensormatic IQ and the NI Retail Consortium, covering the four weeks of May 2-29, shows that overall footfall in Northern Ireland is down 14.9% from May 2019 (analysis is based on two-year comparisons) but increased 40.5 percent from April.
That’s above the UK’s average drop of 27.7%, and Northern Ireland also saw the smallest drop in attendance of any region in the UK.
Attendance at shopping centers in the north fell 4.2% in May (Yo2Y) while attendance in Belfast fell 20.3% but saw a 35% improvement in April.
NIRC Director Aodhán Connolly said: “The recovery in shoppers’ footfall has accelerated in the first full month that stores have been able to open since our lockdown was lifted on April 30, with an increase as shoppers were returning to our main streets, malls and other business destinations in May.
“But it won’t be a V-shaped recovery. Visits to retail destinations were still languishing nearly 15 percent less than in the comparable period two years ago.
“We are still missing our cohort of workers in our towns and villages who still work from home and others have yet to venture into our retail destinations.”
He added: “This slow recovery is particularly felt by fast food retailers and self-service cafes who simply do not have the capacity or the business model to provide the table service that has been mandated by. the executive in a movement that prevents them from fully opening up and competing with others who can.
“This draconian measure must be lifted immediately as our members have gone above and beyond to provide Covid safe spaces for customers and colleagues.”
Mr Connolly said without a rebound in footfall and increased demand, many retailers will struggle to make ends meet, putting a question mark on the viability of stores and jobs and the vitality of our destinations. retail.
“Retailers are playing their part in trying to tempt shoppers, but policymakers also need to think more creatively about how they could rekindle consumer confidence and attract people to our retail destinations,” a- he declared.
Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions has warned that the prospect of a sustained recovery still hangs in the balance, with worrying variants and rising infection rates threatening to undermine consumer confidence.