High street footfall in Northern Ireland grew by an “exceptionally positive” 4.1% in December, in contrast to a 2.1% decline across the UK as a whole, according to new figures.

Data from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and Springboard found that total Northern Ireland footfall grew by 2.2% in December, pushed down by a -3.7% fall in shopping centre footfall.

“The rise in high street footfall in Northern Ireland of +4.1% in December is exceptionally positive given the drop of -2.1% in high street footfall across the UK, however, the decline of -3.7% in shopping centres is in line with the -3.8% drop across the UK,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director.

However, in the wake of last night’s (Tuesday) vote against the government’s Brexit deal in the House of Commons, NIRC director Aodhán Connolly warned that Northern Ireland households could “ill afford” a no-deal Brexit.

“A no-deal Brexit means that Northern Ireland households will face higher prices and less choice on the shelves something they can ill afford,” he said

“We need politicians to coalesce around a workable solution that protects consumers from the costs and disruptions due to the loss of tariff-free and frictionless trade we currently enjoy with partners in the EU. We are now closer than ever to the possibility of a no-deal that will be a disaster for Northern Ireland.”