Today is what should be the second busiest day for retailers in the whole year, only next Saturday should see more footfall and more turnover. However, with many already avoiding the city centre because of the ongoing protests news of a bomb alert in Castle Court will not help the local economy.
The Saturdays in December are often ones that can help ensure survival of stores in hard economic times. But with the impact last weekend of the march to City Hall and this bomb alert affecting two of the busiest days of the year Belfast mind find that a number of retailers will be struggling even more come to new year, that they had hoped.
The idiots who called in the coded warning about a bomb in Castle Court this afternoon are not helping anyone in Northern Ireland. They are not helping the shoppers who were trying to go about their shopping on a busy day. They are not helping the retailers who were hoping to see a turnaround in what has already been a tougher than expected live. They are not helping the workers and unemployed of Northern Ireland as investors look at the ongoing unrest and consider whether to invest or continue to operate here.
Unemployment has fallen elsewhere in the UK last month once again, but here in Northern Ireland it continues to rise. This bomb alert is going to further exacerbate that situation. Northern Ireland was doing so well, but now we appear to be doing our best to undo all that good progress over recent years.