Visit Duration During Covid-19 Across the Urban Hierarchy and Income Scale

In previous outputs we have looked extensively at how footfall across UK urban centres has changed in response to Covid-19, and more recently at how catchment areas have undergone similar transformation over the same period. In this analysis we use our mobile geo-location data to explore how dwell time – the duration of visitors to high-streets and town centres – has changed in the past 14 months and contrast those differences by income group.

Urban Centre Dwell Time by City, Town and Village
© Huq Industries 2021

The chart above shows the average number of hours in a day that visitors were observed in sample of cities, large and smaller towns and villages across the UK – represented at the monthly level since January 2020.

Larger towns and cities show a modest change in response to the first and subsequent lockdowns, with changes in the sub-10% range due to the wider mix of residential and commercial activities sustaining the previous trend. Dwell-time across smaller towns and village centres however shows variance of up to 25%. Rises coinciding with the first and second lockdowns may well reflect the predominantly residential nature of these centres.

Dwell-time by city, town and village by income
© Huq Industries 2021

These contrasts become more vivid as we explore the equivalent metric by income group, which we are able to inherit from the ONS Local Labour Market Statistics at the MSOA level (Nomis) based on approximate residential location.

Visit duration for high- and mid-earners across major city centres has remained relatively unaffected since Jan 2020 showing a variance of around 5%, while lower-income earners fell by 20% during the first lockdown. This trend is reflected to an even greater extent for villages. Across town centres however this picture is inverted, with visit duration for higher earners falling by as much as 25% over the summer period in particular.

Workplace and residential geography may play a role in these outcomes with costlier accommodation found in city centres and commuting villages, which leads to less observable change when the home and workplace become the same. The opposite may be true of towns, which support their own and also local village populations with routine / staple retail facilities in ways that cities and villages do not, and may also represent employment for local residents.


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.