Northern Irish Retail Market ends 2021 on a high

The owner of two major retail schemes in Northern Ireland have reported the highest month of sales on record in December at its premier outlet, The Boulevard, as well as an annual growth in sales of 23% compared to the same trading period in 2019.
Landlord Lotus Property also owns retail and leisure destination, The Junction, which has also fared well with sales finishing up the year 14% up on the same period.

Despite the threat to retail success posed by the pandemic since 2020, both schemes have enjoyed some headline successes, with The Boulevard welcoming seven new brands on site including Claire’s Accessories and Luke 1977’s first store on the island of Ireland.

In 2021 The Junction submitted a planning application for the UK’s largest garden centre retailer, Dobbies to open a 110,000 sq. ft store. The £10m investment will create in the region of 150 new full and part-time roles, and represents the largest Dobbies’ store in Northern Ireland and one of the largest in the retailer’s UK portfolio.

The store is expected to attract a footfall of around one million visitors per annum, a massive boost to the scheme and the local area as well as being a gamechanger for the Northern Irish retail landscape, as the sector seeks to bounce back from a difficult 12 months following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Junction’s retail and leisure offering continued to grow over the past year, with the arrival of American lifestyle and footwear brand, Skechers, Synge & Byrne and Heat MMA all opening their doors in 2021.

Commenting on the positive end to 2021, Lotus Property Managing Director Alastair Coulson said:
“After starting 2021 in lockdown with limited retail open, we are thrilled that The Boulevard and The Junction finished with record breaking trading figures.

“It has been an extremely challenging nineteen months for the retail industry, but we at Lotus Property are particularly proud of how hard everyone involved with The Junction and The Boulevard have worked to buck the retail trends and come out the other side stronger than ever.

“Looking forward to 2022, both retail and leisure destinations have big plans and should see the positive trends continue. In Banbridge, there are exciting new stores due to open with designer womenswear boutique, Olsen relocating and reopening on 21 January, to make way for a new international brand. The scheme will be further bolstered by exciting new 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 this year.

“In Antrim, new concept store refits from Hallmark, Denby and Pavers along with a Poundland ‘Diamond’ new look store concept, one of the first in Northern Ireland, is continuing to prove retailer confidence in the scheme. We are delighted to extend our food and beverage offering too, as construction is also underway for a new Tim Hortons Restaurant and Drive-Thru scheduled to open early 2022 at The Junction”.

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