Retail Centres in the North East See In-store Retail Recover 10% Faster than UK Mean

Store visits in town centres across the North East have been stronger than the UK average since non-essential retail opened a month ago today, with the region reaching 63% of pre-pandemic levels whilst the rest of the UK has an experienced recovery of 57% overall.

South Shields shows the greatest retail centre recovery within the region, with footfall reaching 97% of pre-pandemic levels and in-store visits rising 8% over pre-pandemic levels. This is followed by Hartlepool and Sunderland, where footfall has risen to 57% and 76% of pre-pandemic levels respectively whilst store visits have climbed to 69% in each centre. In Newcastle, footfall has risen to just 51% of pre-pandemic levels whilst in-store visits are at 57%.

Across the region, Huq’s measure of dwell time – the time people spend within each centre per trip – is up 40pts from pre-Covid levels, with the most recent rise driven by Hartlepool and South Shields in particular. In both cases the older generation (50+) is the demographic driving this rise in dwell.

When using Huq’s high-frequency geo-data to analyse which shops people in the region are visiting, the data highlights a trend towards visiting independent stores over chains, with people in Sunderland, South Shields, Newcastle and Middlesborough all preferring independents over bigger franchises.

As focus turns once again to the levelling up of the North of the UK, Huq’s geo-data will continue to offer clues as to how different parts of the UK are rebuilding after the pandemic.


Huq Industries publishes high-frequency economic data across a range of themes derived from its first-party geo-mobility data. Our first-party, verified and compliant data supports a broad range of applications in financial services, real-estate, and public sector and CPG. Whichever research themes you are following, Huq offers a fast and reliable means to measure business and societal trends with confidence.