BALLYMENA’s favourite shopping destination, the Fairhill Shopping Centre, is reporting an increase in sales since opening its doors on Friday 12th June 2020, even though footfall is lower than usual for the time of year.
Natalie Jackson, Fairhill Shopping Centre Manager explains; “There is no doubt that the lockdown had a major impact on people’s shopping habits, but what was really great to see was that people returned to the mall very quickly since it opened. Consumers have craved the ability to purchase goods, to be out and about, as well as have the opportunity to experience the great service that our many tenants in the Fairhill have to offer, which our customers love.”
Fairhill has also added its voice to the staycation debate by launching its very own campaign to shop local. In addition to reminding their customers as to what is on their doorstep, the Centre was keen to find out what shoppers have been on the hunt for post lockdown and tell their story.
Natalie has been talking to her tenants to find out what are the key purchases, given that so many are holidaying at home or locally this year. She said, “Given we were all used to wearing something more comfortable at home, this trend seems to have continued with purchases of several well-known celebrities’ sports range. It would seem customers really just want to browse the stores, then purchase a new top or item for themselves that is easy to wear and by doing so, makes them feel a little normal again.
“The sales in the kids’ department in some of our stores have been massive as the little ones have continued to grow, and shorts and t-shirts have been a must purchase. In some cases, stores have doubled their sales as customers’ money is not being spent on holidays. In addition to purchases for themselves, people are also looking to buy items for their homes and for something to entertain the children, so the likes of the book store, Waterstones, has been selling books on gardening, nature, bugs and weather as well as jigsaws and board games.
“Overall it would seem that the retail staff are happy to be back at work and there are even some stores recruiting staff, as people have been promoted which in turn has meant vacancies at other levels.”
The Lotus Group, the asset and property management company that took over the role of managing the Fairhill property during lockdown, is very content with the news that sales are up. Alastair Coulson, Managing Director of the Lotus Group said, “The retail sector is still finding it very challenging and with the introduction of the mandatory wearing of masks this week, there will be varying views on how that will affect many of our properties.
“We are very happy that the Fairhill Centre is doing well and we were very impressed with the post lockdown plan, how it was implemented and how the customers are very happy to return to it feeling safe with the measures that have been adopted. This seems to have worked well for the community in Ballymena and for those visiting from beyond.
“We will continue to do our best, protect and support our staff within the Centre, as well as encourage people to shop local and more importantly continue to spend.”
Natalie concluded: “It is a very strange time for all of us including the Fairhill Shopping Centre, however we will continue to support our tenants, the local community and do our utmost to ensure the necessary measures are in place to facilitate our tenants and customers.”