Footfall slumps in Belfast following Primark fire
New data has revealed the devastating impact of the fire that engulfed Primark’s Belfast store on the city’s retail scene, revealing a 30% drop in footfall.
The historic building and its surrounding area remains cordoned off after a blaze ripped through the five-storey property on 28 of August. It has been estimated that the cordon will be in place for at least four months, causing major disruption in the city centre.
Research by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and Springboard has revealed that footfall in Belfast fell significantly more in the five weeks from August 26 - September 29 than in wider Northern Ireland, where footfall was down by 4.6%.
"This drastic dip in shopper footfall after two good months comes directly on the back of the fire that affected Primark's flagship store in Belfast City Centre, Northern Ireland's main retail destination," said Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director, Aodhán Connolly.
"This sad occurrence has effectively split Belfast's busiest thoroughfare, and the city centre in two. This is distressing not only for Primark and the fourteen businesses within the cordon who cannot open, but also those in the locale who are affected by the footfall drop and their suppliers."
The Irish clothing retailer has committed to be back up and running in the city as soon as possible, and a planning application unveiled this week plans to redevelop the building with a conservation-led approach to preserve many of the original elements of the property.
"We can confirm that we submitted a Listed Building Consent Application this week and we are working with a number of stakeholders to navigate the legal and planning processes required before work on Bank Buildings can begin,” a spokesperson for the brand said last week.
Whilst Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard acknowledged that the footfall decline in Belfast was partially due to the Primark fire, she said the results also reflect that consumers are spending less in general.
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