Traders are appealing for clarity from the government over who should be keeping pavements free of ice.
The Association of Town Centre Managers wants to know their position before more wintry weather returns.
Town centre traders have reported a fall in trade and want to make sure pavements can be kept free of ice.
The association's Andrew Irvine said the Department of Regional Development should let them know the legal position if they grit outside their shops.
"We firmly believe that whether the Roads Service clear the pavements, or whether the councils clear the pavements, or some sort of common sense prevails to allow businesses to come out and clear the pavement, somebody has to clear the pavement.
"This idea that we can have days on end where people can't walk safely on our pavements just isn't acceptable," Mr Irvine said.
Traders hope that the DRD will let them know where they stand before next week, when the icy weather is expected to return.
The department said it would reply to the query in due course.