Evidencing the Impact of Covid-19 on Local High-Streets using Mobility Data | Part 1

Evidencing the impact of Covid-19 on local high streets using mobility data: The power of footfall mobility insights

We know through personal experience that people used their local high streets differently during the two years of the pandemic. But how can councils quantify those changes, and use that information to inform their planning for the future?

CommunityVision® provides hard evidence

Mobility data insights help councils understand how and when people visit places. Huq’s Local High Streets Report uses insights from CommunityVision® to provide evidence of changes between 2019 and 2022, and to identify trends that may shape the future of local high streets.

The Future of Local High Streets 2022 E-Book

To explore Huq’s unique insights into pandemic trends and their impact on the future of local high streets, download the full Local High Streets Report 2022.

Powerful mobility data insights

In this first blog article on the Report, we see the power of footfall data insights to build a picture of how people behaved during Covid-19. For more mobility data insights, download the full Local High Streets Report.

Huq collects over 1Bn mobility and interaction events daily, and access to data since 2019 means that councils can use CommunityVision® to compare visits across time right up to the present. The Local High Streets Report uses this historical data to set an average level for pre-pandemic 2019 against which footfall can readily be tracked.

Local high street visitor numbers fluctuated during the pandemic

All three of the rural to urban high street locations monitored by Huq across this period showed similar reactions to Covid-19 and the restrictions imposed by the Government.

Footfall across the urban hierarchy

Footfall data shows a marked reaction to the onset of Covid-19 early in 2020, when people began to fall ill and communities were uncertain. But as non-essential travel and then lockdown restrictions arrived during March, footfall grew significantly across the local high streets within our sample.

Looking at the level marking average footfall in 2019, we can see the peaks and troughs throughout 2020 and 2021 are more significant, indicating major changes in the number of people using local high streets. The spring peak in 2020 suggests that in all areas people followed the instructions to ‘stay local’, using local facilities rather than travelling to larger towns and cities for work, retail or other reasons.

Was the impact different according to visitors’ income?

Separating out data insights for Low, Mid and High earners allows Huq to demonstrate whether these groups were affected differently by Covid-19 restrictions.

High street footfall by income group

Whilst at first sight it appears that all groups were similarly affected, some divergence appears during 2021. Low earners are increasingly more present on local high streets (at one point 3% above 2019 levels compared to 6% and 7% below) which may indicate these people are more likely to have local jobs and be required to go back to work as non-essential services re-open.

Comparing footfall for local high streets across England

Huq’s Report focusses specifically on local high streets rather than major cities, and separates out rural and more urban places. It also digs deeper into how these places may be affected by their location in England, drawing some powerful insights.

Download the full Local High Streets Report for a practical example of how insights from CommunityVision® can be used to highlight trends and interrogate changes to the use of local high streets.

Do you work in local government?

Find out how you can build better communities using mobility data to make decisions. CommunityVision®, Huq’s leading product for local government teams, offers real-time and easy-to-use insights on how people use your towns.

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