Retail property saw another year of improvement in 2016 as prime vacancy in Belfast dropped to its lowest level since our research began five years ago in 2012, with the city going from having one in five shops vacant in 2014 to one in 10 shops vacant last year.
LAST week the Bank of England's chief economist compared the bank's post-referendum financial forecasts to the famously inaccurate forecast by renowned BBC weatherman Michael Fish ahead of the UK's great storm of 1987. Looking into 2017, the Bank of England has taken a somewhat more enigmatic approach to its forecasting, saying there are "reasonable grounds" that 2017 might be a "somewhat more difficult year", but there is "nothing inevitable" about that, with it being just a "best guess".
Undoubtedly this will be a year many will be glad to see the back of. But as 2016 draws to a close, the outlook for the Northern Ireland retail market remains buoyant, despite the tumultuous 12 months that have passed. Brexit headwinds predicted during the summer have not been as severe as once thought and this year the retail market has continued the improvements seen throughout 2015, with vacancy rates continuing to drop.