It's been a lean Christmas for some NI retailers

  • Several retailers in Northern Ireland report that they've had a pretty lean Christmas in 2018, with some reporting sales dips over previous years and a few businesses closing their doors in the new year.

    A poor Christmas sales period can often lead to panic at the beginning of the year regarding future targets and sales projections. In a crowded market, the reality is a lot of retailers struggle to compete with much larger chains and with the increase in online shopping, retailers are struggling to get traction and footfall within the shops.

    The Belfast Telegraph reports that Jeweller Argento suffered "a dip of five percent in sales" and that Ballymena "lost two businesses in the first week of 2019”. The Primark fire that broke out in the famous Bank Buildings was detrimental to Belfast city centre footfall around the Christmas period, though part of the store was able to be re-opened before Christmas and a route around the damaged building was constructed.

    Argento was one of the stores that had to close due to the fire. Despite relocating to Cornmarket and managing to match sales of 2017 in Belfast, the sales overall across the 26 stores currently open in Northern Ireland have taken a hit. Business advisor Andrew Webb described the period as a "significant churn."

    Independent stores are vital to ensuring a versatile and diverse range of shops, but this is not as achievable for independent vendors with the rise of online shopping. It is crucial for retail management to respond to a slow sales period with a strong strategy for the new year, and increasing footfall in the shops is a key way to drive sales.

    SOURCE: Belfast Telegraph

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