Up to 500 jobs in Armagh city centre are at risk over the next few months.
That’s the view of City Centre Management (CCM) who has appealed to the Armagh community to rally behind traders facing a bleak Christmas and difficult start to 2021.
The CCM Chairman Art O’Hagan says it’s hard to look beyond severe job losses if those retailers are not supported by the community in the coming weeks and months.
With the ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions set to end on November 13, it leaves less than six weeks until Christmas – the busiest time of the year for most retail and hospitality businesses.
He added: “Our high street is depending on you at this time; the city centre is the heart of the community but needs the local community to shop local.
“Online shopping at the big chains is detrimental to your city; over 500 local jobs in retail area is at risk if the community do not avail of the retail in city centre of Armagh.
“With coffee shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, hairdressers and beautician having to close to assist with the ‘circuit break’ – due to the rising rates of infection – we ask them to avail of the limited subsidies that are available to them.
“Otherwise, all retailers and service sectors are open – and will be re-opening – and need your support like never before.”
Georgian-themed window dressing is presently taking place over the next 10 days to create the usual warm welcoming atmosphere business owners offer in the city, and Mr O’Hagan says those businesses making a huge effort need your support and footfall as online shopping “continues to decimate out city’s fabric for the long-term”.
The rallying call comes amid a stark forecast for high street footfall across the UK.
Retail intelligence firm Springboard has forecast that UK shopping destinations will see overall footfall for the six weeks to Boxing Day plunge by 62 per cent the same period last year.
However, the outlook is a little more positive when Northern Ireland is isolated, with England’s lockdown extending into the beginning of December, opposed to mid-November in NI.