Northern Ireland Retail Study: Value, Volume and Proportion of Goods Sourced from GB or transported via GB from other parts of the world

Date published: 21 March 2019

This paper provides analysis and information on the estimated overall value and volume of retail goods purchased in NI in 2017 and estimates the proportion of goods in NI which are sourced from GB or are transported into NI via GB from other parts of the world.


The Northern Ireland retail sector sells a diverse range of products however little was known about the extent or proportions of those products which are sourced either directly from GB; or through the mainland from other parts of the globe. These retail goods coming across the Irish Sea can come directly into the NI ports, or through the ROI ports and transported up across the land border. 

In response to this DfE undertook a number of approaches to firstly estimate the value and volume of NI retail purchases to fully understand the scale and importance of the retail sector in NI.  In addition DfE has also endeavoured to identify those retail product categories which are likely to have been sourced directly from GB or those retail products that have been transported through GB from other parts of the EU or Rest of the World.  This is in contrast to being produced locally in NI (or imported from the ROI and just moving across the land border into NI).

The results of this new analysis demonstrates that the reliance of the NI consumer on external markets for retail products is very high.  GB is by far NI’s largest source for the routing of retail goods including acting as the main route for the transportation of goods that come from other parts of the EU and Rest of the World.   The exception to this relates to some fresh food items such as meat, fish and bakery goods. 

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