The final quarter of 2009 was a difficult period for retailers in the Republic of Ireland as footfall in shops declined by more than 7% compared with the same period last year, according to new research.
However, according to figures released today by global information services company Experian, footfall figures for the North improved by 0.1% in the final quarter of 2009 compared to 2008.
This contrasts with the first six months of the year when footfall in the North increased by an average of 7.3% on 2008.
The Experian National Footfall Index shows that overall footfall trends in the Republic in 2009 fell by 5.7% compared to 2008 while footfall in the North for the 2009 saw a 3.3% improvement on 2008.
Paul Slevin, head of sales and marketing for Experian in Ireland, explained: "2009 was a tough year for retailers in Ireland when looking at our footfall analysis.
"The final quarter of 2009 and the usually buoyant Christmas period have proved stressful for retailers, as many sold off stock at less than premium prices. Many shops in Ireland began to advertise sales and discounted stock from the start of December, which is well in advance of the traditional post-Christmas sales period.
"The Christmas week was the only week in 2009 that showed a year on year increase in footfall in Ireland was the final week of with a 2.8% year-on-year increase.
"This might be explained by the extra shopping day that occurred in the week, with St Stephen’s Day falling on a Saturday, and that fact that many people left their gift buying to the very last minute.
"The recent bad weather has also undoubtedly had an impact on footfall in key shopping districts around the country.
"Dangerous driving conditions, sub-zero temperatures and treacherous footpaths resulted in shoppers staying at home, rather than attempting to brave the sales.
"Online only retailers have always benefited from Christmas shoppers, but now most high street brands in Ireland also have a presence on the web, which has the potential to dilute footfall as people are able to do some of their browsing from home before hitting the high street."