By Claire West

Northern Ireland outperformed the rest of the UK in terms of shopper numbers during May 2015, but political wrangling is not helping the province a retail lobby has said.

Aodhán Connolly, Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said:

"Although we have seen a very marginal fall in footfall, we have still seen a relatively encouraging growth of 0.7 per cent over the past three months. Importantly our figure of a fall of 0.4 per cent in May is still out performing the UK which saw a drop of one per cent and we were the best performing country of the UK, with Wales having a drop of 4.3 per cent.

"However the current political and economic uncertainty here, could have an effect on not only consumer confidence but on long term investment decisions. Northern Ireland politics has come a long way, however for the second time in less than a year we have seen the political process hit the pause button and this isn't good for business. Many retailers have a choice over where to invest, often elsewhere in the UK or indeed internationally. Anything that makes retailers' second guess whether they should be investing in Northern Ireland is not welcome.

"It is crucial that our politicians put aside their differences and work collegiately to prioritise the needs of the economy. The political parties should get back round the negotiating table, thrash out their differences and then channel their collective energies into creating the certainty and confidence that will aid retailers and others to invest, expand and create jobs.

"Although we have seen encouraging signs such as the first tentative steps towards a fundamental reform of business taxes in Northern Ireland, which can only be welcomed, we need our political leaders to do just that, lead.