UK’s largest cities fail to attract footfall as people work from home

Centre for Cities High Street Recovery Tracker footfall Andrew Carter
Overall footfall in larger cities stayed well below the national average as central London footfall remained at just 31% of pre-lockdown levels
// Big cities struggle to attract footfall as consumers continue working from home
// The largest cities & towns remained at just 17% of pre-lockdown levels, the same as June

New research has found that big cities across the UK are struggling in terms of footfall as people continue to work from home post-lockdown.

The UK’s largest cities and towns remained at just 17 per cent of pre-lockdown levels on average – the same as it was at the end of June, research institute Centre for Cities High Street Recovery Tracker found.

Overall footfall in larger cities stayed well below the national average as central London footfall remained at just 31 per cent of pre-lockdown levels, Manchester at 49 per cent and Birmingham 52 per cent.


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In 14 of the UK’s 63 largest cities and towns, city centre footfall in August exceeded pre-lockdown levels.

Overall city centre footfall was up by seven per cent in August.

Meanwhile, seaside towns such as Blackpool, Bournemouth and Southend and smaller cities such as Birkenhead and Chatham proved popular with visitors.

Centre for Cities is working in partnership with Nationwide to understand how large cities and towns continue to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the institute has called on the government to offer more support to impacted retail and hospitality workers if footfall remains low at a time of continued uncertainty.

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: “Good weather, Eat Out To Help Out and a boost to domestic tourism have helped increase visitor numbers to the UK’s seaside towns, but we should not celebrate too soon.

“We do not know yet whether this will continue into autumn and our biggest cities, which we rely on to power the UK’s economy, are still struggling in the wake of lockdown.

“There is little indication that workers are heeding the Government’s call to return to their offices and city centre restaurants, pubs and shops face an uncertain future while they remain at home.

“So, unless we see a big increase in people returning to the office, the Chancellor must set out how he will support the people working in retail and hospitality who could soon find themselves out of a job.”

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