Bedford boosted by reopening of indoor hospitality, according to Google data from our phones

The busiest weekend was July 10-11

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 6:15 pm

Shops and restaurants in Bedford had a boost in visitors following the reopening of indoor hospitality in May – but footfall remained below levels before the Covid pandemic, new figures reveal.

There is, however, hope that the final lifting of restrictions at the beginning of the week (July 19) – dubbed Freedom Day – will give the High Street the "summer boost it needs".

The data comes from Google which uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in different parts of their daily lives.

Bedford

It compares footfall in areas where there is retail and recreation such as restaurants, cafes and shopping centres to a five week-baseline period recorded before the Covid-19 crisis.

The figures showed in Bedford, average activity across these areas was 31 per cent below normal levels across the two weekends – May 8-9 and May 15-16 – prior the lifting of restrictions on indoor hospitality on May 17.

On the Saturday and Sunday of the Spring Bank Holiday on May 31, increased activity meant it was 19 per cent below normal levels.

Then across the final two weekends with data – July 3-4 and July 10-11 – stayed at the same level.

Across the UK, average activity in retail and recreation areas increased from 35 per cent below the baseline over the weekends of May 8-9 and May 15-16, to 18 per cent below across July 2-3 and July 12-13.

The weekend of the Spring Bank Holiday saw a peak in visitors with activity just 11 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.

The figures will have been impacted by the easing of Covid restrictions across England on May 17, which allowed restaurants and pubs to open indoor areas for food and drink.

Cinemas, hotels and children's play areas were also given the go-ahead to reopen, along with indoor sporting and entertainment venues.

The British Retail Consortium said better weather in June and the success of Euro 2020 had also helped boost trade, with the body reporting a growth in High Street sales between April and June.

Meanwhile, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said the reopening of hospitality and leisure sectors had led to a "dilution" in consumer spending, although he said businesses now faced greater competition from online retailers.

He added: "Retailers will be hoping that the feel-good factor from Euro 2020 and lifting of Covid-19 restrictions will give the high street the summer boost it needs.”

The data from Google showed that the busiest weekend for activity in retail and recreation areas in Bedford since May 8 was July 10-11 when levels were 17 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

The quietest was May 8-9.