Grocery footfall remains static

Throughout the Now Near Next series, we’ve tracked mobility from May, using data from a range of sources including Apple, Google and Locomizer to build an image of how people are travelling and what the exposure to OOH campaigns would be.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a number of localised restrictions spread across NI. This week, we have heard enhanced restrictions will be enforced, however it remains more relaxed than earlier this year.

Grocery and pharmacy locations have seen fairy steady footfall throughout the last 6 months, the weekly average now at 92% of the baseline. Through the early part of the year these retailers saw significant volumes of customers, and in the run up to Christmas it’s unlikely we’ll see any major changes to footfall in these areas. Online shopping capacity did increase, and may continue to, however availability was limited. In addition, it’s unlikely that shoppers will rely on online ordering for their big Christmas orders, where last minute additions and substitutions can make or break the festive food shop. Footfall through workplaces also continues to build, albeit with limited changes week on week.

High street footfall demonstrates a more varied insight into movement. Often affected by weather, we would anticipate seeing a slight reduction in autumn naturally, as weather deters shoppers and encourages visits to covered shopping centres instead. As Christmas approaches, the weather is likely to have less impact on shopper figures. Weather also has a huge impact on footfall in parks and beaches.

Our data for driving activity is reported until 3rd October, at which point the average weekly driving activity remains above baseline, at 103%. As we have already reported in this series, without YoY comparison data within this series, interpretation can be challenging, however it is notable to see that in February before concerns about Covid were realised, the driving activity regularly dipped below baseline.

Data from TomTom does show 2019 comparison for congestion levels in Belfast, with data continuing to show clear morning and evening rush hour peaks. Despite the increased restrictions, we’ve seen little change to this data however with schools finishing today for two weeks, we would expect to see a return to traffic volumes similar to that of August. Through the extended Halloween holidays, we also expect to see increased driving activity close to parks and recreational areas, as parents seek entertainment in the absence of trick or treating, or other typical Halloween activities.

While additional restrictions may be on the horizon, brands should take heed of typical shopper patterns, and the environments that remain open. Careful planning, mapping and targeting can bring effective campaigns to audiences across Northern Ireland, with particular value placed on formats targeting retail environments, and the key arterial routes close to them.