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Grafton St footfall up 14.6pc

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Shoppers on Grafton Street, Dublin

Shoppers on Grafton Street, Dublin

Shoppers on Grafton Street, Dublin

Pedestrian numbers on Dublin's two major shopping streets, Henry and Grafton St remained stable during the first quarter of 2012.

Footfall on Henry Street in Q1 2012 was on par with this time last year with over 11,600 shoppers per hour recorded on the street. Grafton Street had over 12,100 shoppers per hour in Q1 -- a 14.6pc increase compared to the same period last year, according to consultants CBRE.

Florence Stanley, the firm's retail director, said that despite the difficulties being encountered by retailers, as demonstrated by the latest retail sales data from the Central Statistics Office, which showed a 1.9pc annual decline in retail sales volumes in the year to February, these two streets saw stable footfall.

"It is encouraging that a number of new brands are actively looking for stores," she added.

"There is no doubt that further rationalisation can be expected in the Irish retail market, particularly for retailers who are tied into legacy leases. However, we predict that at this juncture, UK retailers, who are now beginning to experience problems in their home market, are probably at higher risk than indigenous retailers who have significantly cut their cost bases following almost four years of austerity.

Meanwhile Dublin City Business Improvement District, which represents 2,500 city-centre businesses, has recorded an increase in consistent footfall in the city centre for the first time since 2006 and a corresponding increase in sales.

"Feedback from our members indicates that trading levels for the first quarter of 2012 have exceeded expectations across all sectors, consolidating the gain experienced over the Christmas period for the first time since the onset of the recession," said Richard Guiney, the association's CEO.

Occupancy rates for businesses are also improving across the city, with vacancy rates now standing at 11.3pc within the BID area (stretching from Stephen's Green on the south side of the city to Parnell Street on the north side), which is a reduction from the peak of 15.4pc experienced in February 2011.

Trading over St Patrick's weekend also contributed to this stronger than expected performance, with a number of trader members opening for the first time this year and reporting steady business throughout the bank holiday weekend.

However, the positive early signs are fragile and must be protected, emphasising the need to work collectively on consumer confidence building measures.

Restaurants and the hospitality sector are leading the way with 15pc of people saying that eating out is their number one reason to come into the city centre.

Indo Property