Spending data shows Liverpool city centre recovery

Analysis of debit and credit card data commissioned by Liverpool BID Company shows spending in Liverpool city centre has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels. Tony McDonough reports

Visa, credit card, debit card, retail, spending, transaction
Debit and credit card data shows a recovery in spending in Liverpool city centre


Debit and credit card data shows spending in Liverpool city centre in the run up to Christmas 2021 was almost back at pre-pandemic levels.

Tracking Visa online, Visa merchant and non-Visa transactions (not including cash), figures from Liverpool BID Company reveals people spent £743m in Liverpool city centre in the final quarter of 2021. This is not far behind the same period in 2019.

£2.1bn is spent each quarter in Liverpool city region’s economy, with spend covering retail, hospitality, business, food, drink, motoring, services, business and health. Figures for 2021 showed consumers were willing to spend once restrictions were eased.

BID’s analysis of card spending during the pandemic shows an expected drop during each of the three lockdowns, where spend drops to below £1.6bn in lockdown one and below £1.75bn in lockdowns two and three.

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Spend recovered in 2021 with the merchant economy (card and online spend)  in the  L1, L2 and L3 districts of Liverpool rallying significantly after each lockdown. Q4, October, November and December, is the so-called ‘golden quarter’ for consumer businesses as it includes the critical Christmas shopping period.

In Q4 2021, total spend in the city centre hit £734m, the highest total since Q4 2019. The largest spend by postcode in the city was in L1, with L1 outperforming the merchant performance in central areas compared with Manchester and Leeds.

The key drivers of the daytime economy – 6am to 6pm – in Liverpool city centre are clothing, retail and restaurants with Q4 seeing a rise in the average transaction value.

Retail and the high street in Liverpool city centre saw the biggest increase in spend compared with Q3, outperforming the national average. Clothing sales saw an increase in Q3 and was in line with the national average. Restaurants were down slightly on Q3 and sat below the national average.


Church Street
Shoppers returned to Liverpool city centre in Q4 2021. Picture by Tony McDonough


Liverpool saw the impact of the return of its visitor economy in Q4 2021 with the return of visitors from the Liverpool city region as well as further afield. £314m of VISA spent in Liverpool city region was from people from outside compared with £321.5 in Q4 2019.

In 2019 Q4, nearby towns contributed £129m to Liverpool city region’s economy (Bootle £30.4m, Wirral £31.4m, Southport £11.7m). In 2021 Q4 that figure stood at £107m (Bootle £14m, Wirral £18.9m, Southport £14m).

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Bill Addy is CEO of Liverpool BID Company, who commissioned the data and represents more than. 1,000 businesses in the city centre. He said: “Liverpool’s recovery has been steady in 2021 but the focus of our work needs to be on what drives our economy and how we can support it.

“Confidence is key for 2022 and beyond and we need to be mindful of what may be holding people back. We need to ensure that those in Wirral, Bootle and the rest of Liverpool city region are happy to get a bus, a train or to drive into the city centre. We need to maximise that daytime economy as well as Liverpool’s nightlife.

“Liverpool’s strength comes from its mixed economy and what we are seeing is the need to focus on those areas that need an injection of confidence. Events we are co-funding, such as Taste Liverpool, will show the breadth of offer in our food and drink sector while cultural events help to attract the whole family to the city for a day out.”

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