Northern Ireland retail and hospitality sector sees a 29% boost over the year – Belfast Telegraph

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NI hospitality sector is recovering following pandemic slump.
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John Breslin
September 17 2021 06:00 AM
Retail and hospitality is almost back to pre-pandemic levels of business, but some parts of the services sector, including theatres and cinemas, are still hurting badly, according to the latest official figures.
Production firms are also reporting healthy growth across most of its sector, with an overall year-on-year increase of 27.6%, though that compares to the historic low in the second quarter of 2020.
The increases quarter on quarter, and over the year, largely compare favourably to the UK-wide numbers, according to the figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey said the healthy numbers in the services sector reflects the "staycation boom and the lifting of restrictions".
Overall, the services sector saw increased output of 5.5% in the three months to the end of June, and a sharp hike of 29.2% over the year. This compares to the UK-wide increases of 5.8% and 21% over the year.
Output here remains 1.2% below the last quarter of 2019. But while retail and hospitality have recovered, footfall and revenue in other services, including theatres and cinemas, is still 20% below pre-pandemic levels.
According to NISRA, production increased by 1.1% over the quarter and 27.6% year on year. This compares to 0.4% and 18.2% across the UK. Manufacturing here increased by 27.3% over the year.
Mr Ramsey said that "not surprisingly" textiles had seen the biggest annual growth, reflecting the demand for PPE.
But he warned that the figures for transport equipment, which are still 40% below pre-pandemic level, highlights "a severe challenge" for the local aerospace sector.
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons was cheerleading for one particular arm of manufacturing yesterday, the region's small but growing defence industry, which, along with aerospace more generally, employs 7,000 people and contributes £1.5bn annually to the economy.
He was in London with representatives of 14 companies at the Defence and Security Equipment International trade show.
He said companies “have shown great resilience over the last 18 months, particularly when they were not able to visit overseas markets and exhibitions which are important to building relationships with potential investors and trade partners. It’s great to be here today at DSEI which is one of the first physical exhibitions being held in the sector since the pandemic.”
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