Despite restrictions NI remains mobile 

[15 January] As Covid-19 restrictions remain in place, audience mobility is continuing to increase. Our week on week average shows driving activity at 75% of the baseline for the period until 12th January. Across the whole of the UK, this is a pattern which is repeated, with people moving much more than in March following the initial lockdown.

This week, we are introducing a fully interactive chart for driving activity.

Restrictions in Northern Ireland have been fluid and frequently changing, reflected in mobility. Looking at the data over the year, we can clearly see that during the initial lockdown mobility rose steadily to the point where restrictions began to ease. The reopening of non-essential retail and much of the hospitality sector aligned with summer holidays and good weather, enticing audiences out of their homes and inflating driving figures. When schools reopened in September, all other elements of society were open. Despite this we see a drop in mobility, likely to be a seasonal trend related to shorter days and less flexibility due to school attendance.

Throughout autumn, mobility hovered just below the baseline, with the average mobility at 95% of baseline for October and November. As Christmas approached, we saw two periods of relaxed restrictions, and only the second of these from 11th December had a major impact on driving. Again, this is likely to be inflated by the seasonal trends, with the rapid rebound due to Christmas shopping requirements.

We entered another phase of lockdown restrictions on 26th December, however the evidence shows it isn’t having the extreme results as seen in March. Since the beginning of January, mobility has continued to increase to the current level.

Using Google mobility data, we can see that footfall within grocery and pharmacy locations has largely steadied following some turbulence through December, with the weekly average at 83%. As essential retailers, footfall is unlikely to vary much in coming months, reinforcing the value of adding retail OOH to campaigns.

Footfall in workplaces also remains below baseline, but with the running average at 55%, they too are busier than in March. Retail and recreation environments are largely closed, however footfall remains just under half of what would be normal for this time of year.