Business owners read the sweltering weather and improving economic outlook well by encouraging people to buy seasonal food for the barbecue and summer fashion, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), which represents large corporations such as Tesco and Homebase, said.
Shop vacancy rates remained almost the same at 18%, well above the UK and Irish average.
Aodhan Connolly, director of the consortium, said: “It’s a real relief to see that shopper numbers are on the up again after the previous month’s steep drop.
“There are signs that retailers also read the weather and improving economic outlook well, encouraging more of us out to shop for seasonal food, fashion, and other summer must-haves with broad ranges and targeted promotions.”
In July last year, heavy downpours were blamed by some retailers for disappointing footfall. This time, Northern Ireland reported footfall above the UK average, up 3% in July. This was an improvement on June’s 5.9% decline and the first rise since February.
Vacancy rates in Northern Ireland fell to 18% from 18.1% in April.
Mr Connolly added: “The vacancy figures offer less cause for cheer — although marginally down on the previous quarter, Northern Ireland still retains the unenviable position of having the highest number of empty shops by quite a considerable margin.”
A range of economic indicators have shown an upturn in recent times.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index survey of businesses, which looks at factors such as the number of new orders, showed an expansion after five years of negativity.
For the sixth month in a row, the number of people claiming job seekers’ allowance dropped.