Rushmere has busiest Christmas in 40 years
RUSHMERE Shopping Centre has reported its busiest festive trading since it opened in Craigavon in 1976.
The centre, which is home to retailers including Debenhams and Sainsbury’s, said there was a 15% increase in shopper numbers in the seven days to December 29.
Its announcement comes at the start of a week of trading updates from the UK’S biggest retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer.
And last week, Belfast Telegraph revealed that footfall in Belfast’s retail heart was up 40% in the week starting December 24, as shoppers capitalised on the opening of a new Primark and improved access to shops.
Access to shops in Royal Avenue had been limited following a devastating fire at Primark’s flagship premises in Bank Buildings at the end of August.
Across the UK, retailers are nervous that Christmas figures will be down on last year due to online shopping and growing consumer nerves over Brexit.
However, the performance of Belfast city centre and Rushmere Shopping Centre appears to suggest many Northern Ireland shops have enjoyed a busy festive season.
Martin Walsh, Rushmere manager, said: “The final weekend before Christmas is always a bumper trading weekend and this year we enjoyed our busiest yet since we officially opened in 1976.” Two of its main tenants, Sainsbury’s and Debenhams, will give trading updates tomorrow and Thursday respectively.
Meanwhile, research by accountancy firm RSM suggests consumers will tighten spending on areas including takeaways and nights out in 2019.
CO Armagh shopping centre Rushmere has said Christmas 2018 was its most successful festive trading period in its 42 years, with a 15% jump in shopper numbers.
The Craigavon shopping destination said the bumper trading followed a record surge in visitor numbers last month and over Christmas in particular.
Over the week from December 22 to December 29, there was a 15.1% increase in shopper numbers.
And across December as a whole, footfall was up just over 8.1% on the year before, with a rise of 7.9% in shoppers on New Year’s Day.
Over the quarter October to December, footfall was up 13.6%.
Rushmere is the latest retail centre in Northern Ireland to defy an atmosphere of gloom on the UK high streets, with consumers increasingly shopping online and tightening their belts in the face of uncertainty over Brexit.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed an increase in footfall of 37.8% in Belfast’s shops in the week starting December 24.
Rushmere is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest shopping destinations, with 350,000 sq ft of covered mall space, and a 130,000 sq ft retail park.
New retailers and restaurants have opened premises there over the last few months, including burger chain Five Guys and periperi chicken chain Nando’s, as well as fashion brands DV8 and Vogue.
Martin Walsh, Rushmere manager, said: “Footfall across the centre has been extremely positive, with double-digit rises for the key Christmas week, for December and for the full quarter.
“The final weekend before Christmas is always a bumper trading weekend and this year we enjoyed our busiest yet since we officially opened in 1976.
“Following a record 2018 and year-end, we’re confidently looking forward to 2019 as we wish all our visitors and retailers a very happy and prosperous New Year.”
Rushmere’s other major retailers include Dunnes, Debenhams, TK Maxx and Sainsbury’s. It’s owned by Central Craigavon Ltd.