Visits to larger malls and shopping centres in the UK rose more rapidly than other retail destinations since re-opening on April 12th, with data reflecting the pent up demand felt by consumers eager to replenish their wardrobes at last. Footfall fell sharply as restrictions were implemented from December through to spring, however that the place of recovery across shopping centres has out-paced other forms of retail centres offers optimism for the category.
Visits to restaurants across the UK have climbed to 60% of pre-pandemic levels, the highest they have been since September last year. Huq’s Foodservice Index measures the number of people attending some 28,286 hospitality businesses in the UK (2,990 pubs, 19,799 quick-service (QSR) and 5,497 restaurants) and after a phased reopening, the restaurant sector has been bouncing back fastest.
The UK’s accommodation sector experienced its biggest surge in almost a year in the lead up to the Spring bank holiday, with geo-data revealing the scale of demand for domestic breaks. According to Huq’s Index, which measures the number of customers present in a range of sectors in comparison to the February 2020 average, visits to B&Bs, hotels and guest houses across the UK recovered 25pts post reopening in April, before jumping a further 60pts in the build up to the late May bank holiday.
Visits to the UK’s hospitality and restaurant sector went up by around a third (32%) in the week immediately following the re-opening of indoor hospitality on Monday 17 May. The data includes the first Saturday since restrictions were relaxed. The North West region saw the largest jump in activity, rising by an average of 39%. However, Greater London came dead last, showing a rise of only 22%.
Visits to non-food retail stores more than doubled since restrictions eased last month, with the trend showing that footfall has risen from 10% to over 30% of pre-pandemic levels. This index from Huq Industries measures in-person visits to stores ranging from clothing, shoe shops and homeware to DIY, pet shops and opticians to chart how that value has changed in relation to the equivalent weekday median in February 2020.
The number of British residents travelling overseas has risen by more than 30% so far in May with the cautious reopening of international on Monday 17th. This rise is even more pronounced among ‘green-list’ countries, where quarantining on return is not required, showing a 2.5x increase in trips made from the UK over the same period.
Publicans hoping for packed beer gardens after reopening last month have found punters being held back by an uninvited guest – the rain – with geo-data revealing how one of the wettest late springs on record might have subdued the sector’s recovery. The number of people visiting pubs in England more than doubled from Friday 16 April to Thursday 22 April, from around 16% of the levels we saw in January 2020 to almost 35%.
Activity levels across the UK’s hotels, B&Bs and guest houses are showing a pre-emptive rise in traffic, with the presence of staff, workers (and a number of outdoor drinkers) behind a 35% rise in presence beginning April 12th. Analysis of when hotels have been busiest during the period since April 12th reveals that activity is highly concentrated in working hours, with up to 15% more attendance taking place between 9am and 5pm.
Towns and cities in the UK’s North East, North West and West Midlands show early signs of getting back to previous working patterns, with high-frequency geo-location data revealing a sharp rise in commuting practices during April as lockdown restrictions eased. The data measures the extent to which residents of UK towns and cities travel beyond their home environments on a frequent basis – a traditional commuting pattern.
Pub-going has increased almost twice as quickly as it did after the first lockdown lifted in July 2020, with attendance surging in comparison to the equivalent days last year. However, while pubs are recovering almost twice as fast than they did previously, Huq’s high-frequency footfall data reveals there is still a long way to go.
Non-essential retail in Portsmouth was among the busiest in the South East of England after non-essential retail reopened on April 12th, with data from Huq Industries’ Community Vision product revealing the cities that bounced back fastest in the first full week. Community Vision, Huq’s high-street measurement tool for local Councils, measures footfall, catchments and other essential KPIs in order that towns and cities can follow and optimise the recovery from Covid-19 on a near-realtime basis.
To mark the re-opening of non-essential retail last week, Huq has used insights from Community Vision, it’s high-street measurement tool for local Councils, to chart the recovery of the top and bottom towns and cities across England and Wales. The data measures both pedestrian footfall and in-store visits to non-essential outlets across 10,000+ high-streets between Monday 5th and Saturday 17th April, aggregated to the city level. Chelmsford in Essex has topped the list for footfall growth since non-essential retail’s reopening, with an increase of 71.9% over the first week. However, while Chelmsford has been busy in terms of footfall, Exeter has in fact seen the greatest rise in non-essential store visits, with levels almost tripling in the week (up 227.3%) – albeit from a small base.
The volume of transits through the UK’s ports of entry since March 1st has tracked consistently at 10-15pts above January 2020 levels, while at the same time delays have returned to ’normal’ levels. This suggests that UK ports are performing more efficiently than at any time during the last year and a quarter, as the time taken to process transits has decreased by up to 15%.
Visits to the UK’s pubs spiked up to 60pts this week, with high-frequency geo-data showing how Monday’s easing is of restrictions has drawn millions to the nation’s beer gardens. The Huq Index had recorded only nominal visits to pubs since the start of the year, which can be largely attributed to staff and venues which offer takeaway food. However, following the first phase of hospitality’s reopening on Monday, Huq’s single day measure shows a jump of 60pts+ supporting reports that many have rushed to book outdoor tables.
British over-50s have had a vaccine-induced spring in their step over the last few weeks, with the number of park visits amongst this demographic doubling since the start of the year. The acceleration in parks’ usage is significantly greatest for those in this demographic: rising at 51% more than those aged 30-40, and 85% more than those aged 20-30, having begun the year 17% below all other age groups.
Travel between the UK and the Republic of Ireland has shown resilience over the course of the last year with levels 50pts greater than between the UK and all other countries, as high-frequency mobility data suggests that Brexit has had little impact on the volume of traffic since January 1st 2021. The Index reveals that travel to and from Ireland saw a sharp drop at the start of the pandemic, however, it quickly recovered to 80% of pre-pandemic levels and has since remained 50pts greater than that of journeys between the UK and the rest of the world.
Restaurants and bars in California have experienced a surge in visits over the last two months, with footfall reaching a post-pandemic high of 78% as the state’s vaccine roll out gathers pace.
Driving through any big city is rarely a pleasure, but for Londoners, a move towards private transport, LTNs and cycle lanes is causing congestion that could test even the most patient drivers. Huq’s high-frequency geo-location data records the speed of drivers across the UK’s A-Road network throughout the pandemic to provide an up-to-date measure of delays. The indicator shows that congestion in London saw a significant increase of over 30pts in cases with traffic volumes still well below what it was before the pandemic.
Population mobility in the UK remains around half of its pre-pandemic level as we look back on a year of restrictions. Huq’s high-frequency footfall data provides an accurate measure of how policy has impacted movement in the UK throughout the pandemic, which averages around -40pts throughout the last year. As restrictions eased last summer, high-street footfall reached a peak of 75% of the January 2020 mean in July and August, before dropping to a series low of 40% at the start of this year.
In-person supermarket visits in the EU are at their lowest point since the start of the pandemic, with trips reaching to a new low of just 34% of previous levels as coronavirus cases rise sharply in the region once again. Footfall to stores had tracked as high as 80% of usual levels at the start of the year before experiencing a sharp decline since February, which saw both France and Poland reintroducing partial lockdowns to fight a third wave.