More than 1.3m people came into Liverpool city centre in the week beginning March 7 – the first time footfall has exceeded pre-pandemic levels in a ‘normal week’. Tony McDonough reports
There are clear signs of Liverpool’s city centre economy returning to pre-pandemic levels with footfall exceeding 2019 levels for the first time during March.
According to Liverpool BID Company, more than 1.3m people came in to the city centre in the seven days from Monday, March 7. That was up 0.9% on average 2019 levels and, significantly, there was no public or school holiday that week to inflate the numbers.
Liverpool BID Company has been monitoring footfall levels in the city centre retail areas since March 2020 as an indication of people returning to the city centre, and also as a broad tool of economic confidence and resilience.
The last week before the UK’s first COVID lockdown was announced, March 9 to 15, 2020, saw almost 1.27m people travel into the city centre. By the following week when the stay at home order was announced that plummeted to 782,209.
Comparing that with the same week this year footfall was up 5.8%. The October half term in 2021 saw footfall exceed its 2019 comparison figure, but last week is the first time without a key event to account for the traffic.
In the same seven days, Liverpool fared well compared to the north of England, up 4.1% week-on-week, and is ahead 4.9% week-on-week in comparison with the rest of the UK in week 10 of the year.
In February, footfall was up 16.3% compared with January. Glasgow, Bristol, London and Leicester were the cities with the most visitors to Liverpool, closely followed by Newcastle, Stockport, Nottingham and Coventry. Emerging cities that saw a rise in visitors to Liverpool included Edinburgh, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Cardiff and Northampton.
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, said: “The pandemic is not over, and we know that footfall data doesn’t necessarily translate into economic spending, but this is a positive sign.
“Liverpool has proved to be resilient over the past two years and it is because the city centre is a pull for everyone. The strength of the city is in its mixed-use offer, from culture to shopping, hospitality and nightlife. The storm isn’t over quite yet and we still have rebuilding to do, but this data shows we are going in the right direction.”
Liverpool BID Company is a private, not-for-profit organisation, representing the interests of 1,000 levy paying businesses in Liverpool city centre, across two BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) – Retail & Leisure BID and Culture & Commerce BID.