New national footfall data: London's slow growth rates are 'concerning'

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

03 September 2020

While last weekend’s August bank holiday saw increased footfall in parts of the UK – with many cities and towns experiencing their highest levels of traffic since lockdown began in March – key areas of London are still significantly down

According to new data from wifi provider Wireless Social, cities with increased footfall over the bank holiday weekend include Liverpool (still down -13% compared to pre-lockdown levels, but up 46% since reopening in July), Cardiff (-23% compared to pre-lockdown, improving from -80% since July), Birmingham (-25%), Edinburgh (-37%) and Manchester (-42%).

Meanwhile, footfall also improved in London, up 17% from 4 July (-38% against pre-lockdown averages). But further analysis shows that much of this traffic occurred in London ‘villages’ such as Richmond and Wimbledon, whereas the City, Soho and Canary Wharf were still down -65% on pre-lockdown footfall.

Last week, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called on the government to organise a plan to encourage tourism and business in the capital. Julian Ross, CEO of Wireless Social, views his company’s data as proof of the necessity of such a plan. ‘It’s really encouraging to see footfall rise all across the nation, but the slower rates of growth in London are very concerning,’ Ross commented.

‘It’s essential that the capital gets back to pre-lockdown levels of activity, but the fact that large swathes of London’s workforce will continue to work from home is likely to mean that many restaurants, pubs and cafes will continue to trade at far lower levels for longer than other parts of the country. That’s why we fully support UKHospitality’s latest initiative, calling on the prime minister and mayor of London to support hospitality businesses in the capital, giving them the opportunity to stay afloat and get back to doing what they do best.’

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