We spent more time in Bedford's grocery shops as lockdown continued

Google's research reveals what we were doing before restrictions were eased

By Clare Turner
Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:58 am

Bedford residents were heading to food shops and pharmacies more before the Government considered easing its lockdown, figures from Google suggest.

The tech giant's latest weekly report shows people across the UK were still venturing out to shop for essentials much less than usual, with footfall a quarter down on usual levels.

Google uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in the home, retail and recreation establishments, grocery stores and pharmacies, public transport hubs, workplaces, and parks and green spaces.

Bedford residents were heading to food shops more before the Government considered easing its lockdown

The weekly report shows an increase in activity within Bedford's grocery stores and pharmacies during the week to May 9, compared to the week before – suggesting people are venturing out to shops more regularly, or for longer periods of time.

Over the seven days, time spent in the stores was 24 per cent lower than during a five-week baseline period at the start of the year.

The week before, it had been 29 per cent lower than usual levels.

In the first report, which covered the week to March 29 when the lockdown came into effect, grocery store and pharmacy activity was down 27 per cent.

The data suggests that the population in Bedford are managing to avoid regular trips to shop for basics less successfully than in other locations across the UK. Nationally, people were spending 26 per cent less time than usual in food shops and pharmacies last week.

Last week, the Government relaxed its lockdown advice in England, changing its messaging to "stay alert, control the virus, save lives" – though Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland kept the original "stay at home" messaging.

Health experts expressed concern that the new slogan lacked clarity and may lead to an increase in "risky behaviour" from the public.

In other locations in Bedford:

Visits to public transport hubs were 56 per cent down on usual levels

Shopping centres and food outlets had 72 per cent less traffic than normal

Workplaces were 58 per cent quieter than usual

People spent 26 per cent more time at home than usual