30 September 2016

Brexit backlash fails to materialise for Northern Ireland’s retail sector.


It seems that Northern Ireland has managed to remain remarkably immune to post-referendum economic decline, according to new figures published this month.

Brexit backlash fails to materialise for Northern Ireland's retail sector.

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Northern Ireland has been cushioned from the economic fallout of Brexit to some extent by its border with Ireland. Maintaining this ready access to European markets has meant that its retail outlets have been thriving in the face of doom-and-gloom predictions. Unemployment in Northern Ireland is at its lowest since 2009, which is a sure sign of economic health and confidence. See http://www.irishnews.com/business/2016/09/20/news/no-sign-of-brexit-backlash-as-northern-ireland-retail-sector-builds-698431/?ref=yfp for a more detailed discussion.

Retail resurgence

The retail sector in Northern Ireland seems to be thriving in line with the new economic prosperity. Several high street giants like Greggs and Moss Bros have recently expanded into the region, and other stalwarts such as Starbucks are extending their reach. Moreover, the pound has fallen against the euro for now, so shoppers from southern Ireland are coming north to get better value for money. It is hoped that the influx of southern shoppers into the region will promote regeneration and development of commercial properties. With people flocking north out of places like Dublin shopfitting specialists, building firms, commercial property agents and brokers will surely receive a welcome boost.

Available retail units

Ironically, Belfast in particular suffered a number of retail outlet closures during the recession. These spaces are now being rejuvenated by high street and boutique retail expansion. There are good times ahead for all aspects of commercial development, and related industries such as commercial interior design are enjoying a flourishing trade. Dublin shopfitting companies have brought their creative flair to Belfast’s City Quays in the past, and during this next phase of expansion, creative industries will again receive an injection of energy and optimism.

Interest rates

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the Bank of England’s recent decision to cut interest rates. They hope this move will increase household spending and consumer confidence. This is another indication that retail in Northern Ireland is one of the areas that is immune to the Brexit effect. Currently, town centres (as opposed to cities) in the region have twice the number of vacant retail premises than the UK average. Hopefully, the new economic vibrancy will filter down and bring communities new opportunities to improve and progress.