Northern Irish outlet closes year on strong footing with +19% footfall and turnover

Landlords credit pandemic for heralding outdoor shopping renaissance

One of Ireland’s premier outlet shopping destinations has reported strong trading figures for 2020 as the year comes to a close, crediting the Covid19 pandemic for a renaissance in outdoor shopping, as fresh air, low touch points and space topped consumers’ shopping wish lists in 2020.

Despite a year of national lockdowns and regional circuit breakers north and south of the Irish border, The Boulevard, Banbridge owned by Lotus Property, has bucked the Covid downturn trend, with a 19 per cent increase in both overall turnover and footfall since reopening in June 2020, with sales growth of 39 per cent in the sports and outdoor categories and 43 per cent in homeware.

The Boulevard, uniquely positioned in Northern Ireland close to the border with the Republic of Ireland, welcomed Dune London to the scheme earlier this month, coinciding with Northern Ireland’s circuit breaker lockdown ending – the third new tenant to arrive at the scheme since retail reopened its doors in June 2020.

The landlords have cited the scheme’s significant open air footprint and investment in social distancing measures with a 90 per cent customer satisfaction score of the overall shopping experience and continued success despite facing the retail industry’s toughest year.

Alastair Coulson, Managing Director at Lotus Property, said: “Despite all its challenges, we are closing 2020 with a phenomenal success story. To have increased turnover and footfall by such a significant amount and welcomed new big brand tenants to the scheme, when high streets across the UK and Ireland have been struggling is testament to the strong retail offering we have, a stepchange in attitudes to out of town shopping and the commitment of our centre management team and tenants to ensuring we provided a safe and comfortable shopping environment for customers.

“Out-of-town shopping has prospered this year and will continue to do so with the right mix of retail, food and beverage and leisure, all of which are key focuses for us at The Boulevard as things slowly come back to normal in the second quarter of 2021. The scheme will also be bolstered by exciting arrivals adjacent to The Boulevard, specifically an M&S Food Hall and The Range as well as the Park & Ride facility of a multi-million-pound Game of Throne tourist attraction, which will increase the scheme’s exposure to new customers, both domestic and international as travel corridors being to open again and we welcome visitors from Europe and America once again.

“It’s set to be an exciting year; not only has the arrival of a vaccine provided much needed hope for getting back to normal but we’re very confident if we can achieve all we have in 2020 during a global pandemic, there is going to be no stopping us in 2021.”

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