Driving activity at 84% of baseline

[5 February] Last Friday (29th January) saw vehicular mobility in Northern Ireland reach a peak not seen in several weeks, with routing requests at 96% of the baseline (Apple mobility data). Saturday also saw high levels of travel, at 90% of baseline. Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen the average driving activity at 84% of the norm, further demonstrating that people aren’t staying at home as much in this lockdown.

Google mobility information shows uplift across the board for the pedestrian locations we track. Footfall for grocery and pharmacy locations also shows an uplift in the week on week footfall, up 5% to finish the week at 82% of the baseline. Also seeing a small increase was movement within workplace environments, up 3% to a weekly average of 54%.

Seeing the biggest weekly increase was retail and recreation areas, with 8% weekly growth. This brings the average footfall to 43%, the highest value seen so far in 2021. Across the UK, retail footfall declined in January across all retail destinations, according to Springboard. As a whole, footfall fell by 65.6% in January and while this poses a challenge for retailers, it not as severe as the first lockdown in April, which saw a drop of 80.1%. Retail parks continue to see marginally higher footfall than high streets and shopping centres, likely due to the higher propensity of essential retailers. Park and recreation areas, including beaches, saw footfall remain constant, achieving 83% of the baseline again this week.

Congestion across most global cities is down on previous years, according to the location technology specialist TomTom, whose annual traffic index details the traffic situation in 2020 in over 400 cities in 57 countries. Despite lower levels of congestion has been noted, Belfast ranks as the fifth most congested city in the UK, behind Edinburgh, London, Hull and Brighton & Hove.

This ongoing monitoring demonstrates the opportunity provided by Out of Home. Despite our current restrictions, people continue to move around, exposing them to campaigns and advertising. Mobility is increasing slowly, however as lockdown measures ease we would expect to see these levels increase more rapidly. Out of Home advertising is regarded as trustworthy by 38% of people in the UK (Campaign), and it works well to prime audience in advance of key dates or events.