Rush­mere has busiest Christ­mas in 40 years

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CAN­NING

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.

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