Christmas trade was ‘better than expected’ in town say the retailers
TRADERS in Portadown appeared to ‘hold their own’ over the Christmas period.
Tracey Jackson, manager of High Street Mall, said trade was “better than expected, but not exceptional” and that a clearer picture of individual shops’ performances would be available once reports are completed within the next couple of weeks.
President of Portadown Chamber of Commerce Adrian Farrell echoed the British Retail Consortium’s comments of “acceptable rather than exceptional”. He said, “It was not as bad as traders had feared. The Friday, Saturday and Monday before Christmas saw good footfall in the town.”
At Rushmere Shopping Centre, shoppers were out in even greater numbers this year, with figures for the week starting Monday, December 17 being the best on record.
Martin Walsh, the centre manager, said that for December as a whole, footfall was up four per cent on a year ago. “Despite the challenging economic conditions, Rushmere has registered strong growth in footfall and spend throughout 2012, outperforming overall retail trends for Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK,” he said.
Mr Walsh said Dunnes Stores had recorded its best week ever and that the Rushmere branch of Monsoon/Accessorize was the company’s best-performing outlet in terms of sales.
Meanwhile, Mr Farrell was a member of the new Town Centre Alliance group which met a group of ministers at Stormont recently to discuss challenges facing the retail sector and town centres.
This was the first time business organisations had made a formal presentation to the Executive Sub Group on the economy.
Said Mr Farrell, “We put forward new ideas on rates, planning, car parking and above all we pressed the ministers on the need for a new shop vacancy strategy, given that one in five shops are now empty.
“We stressed the importance of doing something about the rates, At the moment, there are two rate relief schemes available to local traders but we really need the ministers to look at he whole rates system in the round and see if there is additional relief.”
He added, “We need to look at all the options we can to make use of town centres, such as invigorating the town halls to make them into community hubs. As regards car parking, minister Danny Kennedy said the department is currently looking at devolving car parking responsibility to local councils in the run-up to the Review of Public Administration, which I would welcome.”
He said there were positive signs for the coming year including the opening of Portadown Train Station and the town’s 400th anniversary celebrations.
Mr Farrell said new businesses were continuing to come to the town, including Home Bargains which will open at High Street Mall in March, while others such as Bottom Drawer have expanded their premises and Zio’s have opened a new fish restaurant.
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Weather for Portadown
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South