Driving almost 40% above baseline

[17 July] This week, we saw traffic reach the highest level of the entire year to date, a whopping 38% above the baseline. The NI bank holiday weekend is always a popular time for travel, and many people appear to have taken the opportunity for a staycation or a short break away. Even with weekly fluctuations caused by the weekend, the lowest point of driving activity in the week remained above the baseline. This is a sure sign that mobility has returned to normal, as such high levels of movement exceed the pre-pandemic pattern.

Traffic within Belfast is also largely back to the baseline, with some fluctuations across the week. Public transport use remains lower than pre-covid levels, however this is likely to be the ‘new normal’ as social distancing restricts passenger numbers. All mobility metrics within the city are on a positive trajectory, building throughout the week, peaking on Saturdays and dropping on Sundays.

Google mobility data shows a slight drop in the pedestrian activity for grocery and pharmacy locations within Belfast, 29% below the baseline. It’s important to note that this figure represents activity on the 12th July, which was a Sunday. Activity in retail and recreation locations as well as parks and beaches within Belfast also fell from previous weeks, however again in the wider context it’s a positive story for people movement as we see week on week growth.

Retail and recreation locations, which includes high streets, shopping centres and cinemas are on an upward trend, with footfall continuing to increase week on week. Activity in parks fluctuates much more widely as locations are more affected by weather and local holidays.

Springboard data for retail locations paints a similar picture, with footfall in all shopping environments continuing to increase. Between 6 and 12 July, overall footfall was relatively flat, but the seven-day average was just under 60% of the footfall level the same day a year ago, the highest reported since 20 March 2020. Increasing numbers are also visiting shopping centres and retail parks.

This interactive map shows how movement in retail locations across the Europe has changed throughout the pandemic, with the UK as a whole at 85% of the baseline. Click the drop down to change continent, and see more people movement data here.