Is Armagh city centre dying on its feet? Is this the case with town centres across Northern Ireland?
That has been the concern ever since the inception of out of town shopping centres, with free parking on offer and chain stores offering unfair competition to local, independent traders.
These stores often act as a showroom for online shopping, which does little to assist the local economy.
However, Art O’Hagan, managing director of CPS Property in Armagh says, “we in Armagh have proven the test of time and compete very successfully against this very trend”.
And next week will see the launch of a £6m city centre revamp scheme, designed to breathe new life into Armagh city centre.
Up to 25 key properties in Armagh city have been identified for inclusion in the bid from within the ‘Conservation Area’.
This area covers Barrack Street, Scotch Street, Upper English Street, Market Square, Russell Street and the Mall.
With over 170 bespoke individual shops in Armagh, each offering unique experiences, with a massive selection from jewellery, to top designer hairdressers, clothing boutiques, fruit, veg and flower shops; not to mention the numerous coffee shops, restaurants and fresh fish to markets stalls on selected days.
All of these support the local economy by employing over 300 full-time staff, many of whom live and shop in Armagh City.
Head of commercial letting at CPS, Matthew Gilpin, said: “With only five ground floor shops ‘To Let’ on our main street presently, CPS are working closely with numerous traders in the conservation area to avail of this recent launch of £6million pounds ring-fenced grant funding that is available to develop your shop to even look better.
“These grants, where possible, will help bring back into residential and commercial use the unused and unprofitable premises.
“This in turn will supply the demand that we certainly have on a daily basis in our CPS Thomas Street branch.”
He added: “This will not only bring in supportive income yield to the landlord, this will only bring more life back into our city and boost the evening economy, which is also currently doing very well.
“More people and customers will compliment the safety in our city centre.”