SDLP Business spokesperson Pat Catney MLA has said that the latest footfall figures presented by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium paint a worrying picture for local business.
Mr Catney, a successful former businessman, said:
“The latest footfall figures present a worrying picture for local retail businesses of all sizes. An overall fall of 5.3% and a specific fall on the High Street of 6.1% is a significant hit for retailers who are already experiencing challenging conditions.
“Some of this is down to the terrible weather we’ve had over the last month. But there’s a clear need for business and government to reimagine what town centre retail looks like and how we can offer practical assistance to a sector that accounts for a significant portion of the rates base.
“This underlines the need for a return to government here. We need an Executive in place to spearhead rates reform, lifting a crushing burden from the shoulders of retailers, to deal with the Apprenticeship Levy which local firms are forced to pay with no access to the funds for their own training needs, and to reimagine our High Streets.
“The SDLP is working hard in the current talks process to secure a resolution to the remaining challenges so that we can restore power sharing and begin delivering for people and businesses.