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As an outsider, Belfast city centre's independent retail offering is extremely poor, at least compared to Dublin, Cork or Galway.
Its true outside of the fountain street area there is very little.

You mention the city centre - as it was in the past a no-go for ages most independent retail - would a disproportionate amount in independents sit on on the Lisburn and Ormeau Roads - which tbf are pretty vibrant.

I don't have much to compare it to in other cities etc., and really the centre itself should have more.
 

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Perhaps some sort of point of manufacture tax might help
Not sure what is coming next - but as these retailers did pay taxes, and frankly as the online retailers pay pitiful amounts, there is now an even larger hole in national finances.

I'm sure we will see taxation change quite soon.
 

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Not sure what is coming next - but as these retailers did pay taxes, and frankly as the online retailers pay pitiful amounts, there is now an even larger hole in national finances.

I'm sure we will see taxation change quite soon.
And of course with the coronavirus related measures, we have exacerbated the situation by preventing a lot of rates paying businesses from trading, while giving carte blanche to the tax dodgers to continue trading and further eating into the high street space. As you note Debenhams and so on were shaky anyway, the virus has just brought the inevitable collapse into the here and now.

Governments are in a tough space, across the world they seem unable- or unwilling- to deal with companies like Amazon. At the same time, by next summer there will be millions of people out of work and they will be angry. Keeping that anger from exploding will be quite the challenge.

My local barber so far has not been provided any lockdown related payments, and is borrowing money from family to keep paying staff. Meanwhile, our morons at Stormont did manage to get half a million in coronavirus payments out to more deserving causes like wind turbines. Everything that could be being done badly is being done badly, and then some. People won't be placated for long.
 

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Yea half the issue is describing what Amazon and co are, and I think they are effectively networked monopolies and should be regulated and taxed as such.

And yea, also my barber was nearly also spitting on the day before the lockdown. they did everything they were supposed to spending thousands on corona measures.

Separately it would be nice to encourage some of the independent retail from Ballyhack, Ormeau and Lisburn roads into town. Anecdotally I'm told anything in those areas (although in this context cafes) have been booming. Anything downtown mostly chains (but still with employees), have struggled im told.
 

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Um Belfast actually has a lot of footfall for shopping. The Frasers is one of the highest grossing in the U.K.

I personally prefer chains in relation to clothing. They can offer greater deals and more choice.

We in Northern Ireland have missed out on many great food chains due to independent places such as Krispy Kreme, Pret A Manger etc.

I myself do not shop in Debenhams but I would shop elsewhere and would often go out shopping as a day out. The closure of these chains is not a pretty site.
 

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I can't remember Belfast ever having many I dependant retailers which probably is down to the history of the troubles. Plenty of small towns still have independant retailers. But Belfast, Lisburn and Bangor are pretty much soulless when it comes to independant retailing.
 

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I have to agree with the stance that Belfast doesn't have much to worry about in terms of retail suffering any time soon. BHS/Debenhams etc all seemed a bit lost as brands and completely failed to attract Gen Y/Z shoppers, which ultimately led to their demise. I could be badly wrong but I would be astounded if Topshop/Topman isn't acquired. They are still a very relevant and valuable brand for younger shoppers, and for fashion on budget.

Between my degrees I worked in management for a well known fast-fashion brand with a fairly large presence in NI. Our footfall and spending figures were always amongst the highest anywhere in the UK, even when compared to stores in larger cities. At meetings and during conference calls, with colleagues and upper management across the country, the Irish, and particularly Belfasters have a big reputation for being shoppers, and not afraid to spend in general.

I also think we've steadily developed a fantastic retail core recently, and the city has transitioned away from the basic, uninspired offering provided by typical mid-sized regional centres. Naturally, this has provided some casualties and empty units as some stores are pushed out, but in recent years we've gained Anthropologie, Oliver Bonas, Solstrene Grene, Nespresso and others. Our Primark will become one of the largest in the world when it has fully reopened. New Look are opening a flagship in Victoria Square, which itself is one of the best Shopping centres on these islands. Zara spent a fortune renovating their Donegal Place store. Our HoF is one of the single busiest in the UK. We still have Ireland's only Apple store. The jewel in the crown for me, Flannels is absolutely fantastic and imo has a better menswear dept than Dublin's Brown Thomas, stocking Balmain, Balenciaga, LV, Vetements, Moncler, Moschino, Off White, Gucci, Raf Simons and a host of other labels in a cutting-edge environment that even 5 years ago I could only have dreamed of having here.

Not to say there isn't a place for nourishing a thriving local retail scene, much like our fantastic independent hospitality and gastro industry, which has held off an influx of subpar and boring chain-cafes and restaurants that plague the rest of the UK. The real problems facing the future of retail in NI lie within the regional towns like Bangor/Ballymena/Coleraine and even Derry imo. They are going to have to do some work to reinvent their failing centres.
 

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Absolutely you are right. Living in East Anglia it became quite clear very quickly that shopping has been replaced by eating out as a past time over there!
 

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Brewdog has been mentioned at various times throughout this thread; article in the telegraph today suggests they are looking to open here.

Gone a bit wanky over recent years, but can only be a good thing to spread the beer gospel and get folk off the harp and hophouse 13. I wonder where it'll be?
 

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Assuming it will be in the city centre, somewhere in the Library/Union Street area seems like an ideal area for the type of bar, but can't think of any suitable building for it.

You'd imagine a few places won't survive the seemingly endless lockdowns so perhaps it'll take the place of an existing pub, certainly easier to get a licence too.
 

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Assuming it will be in the city centre, somewhere in the Library/Union Street area seems like an ideal area for the type of bar, but can't think of any suitable building for it.
I have it on good authority that BrewDog are looking at 19-21 Donegall Street Belfast. Planning app in for change of use from retail unit to public bar on ground floor. LA04/2020/1143/F
 

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I have it on good authority that BrewDog are looking at 19-21 Donegall Street Belfast. Planning app in for change of use from retail unit to public bar on ground floor. LA04/2020/1143/F

Interesting. That's a fairly comprehensive overhaul planned for that building:

  • Ground floor- craft bar at front, wine bar at rear
  • First floor- bar front and rear
  • Second floor- services
  • Third floor- bar/restaurant front and restaurant rear

Wonder if they would use all of it, or just the proposed bar areas of the ground and first floor.
 
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