In recent weeks, additional restrictions have been implemented across NI however as we predicted, it’s not having a significant impact on driving activity across Northern Ireland. Predominately affecting our social lives, the restrictions limit mixing of households, however shops and hospitality venues remain open. So too are schools, colleges and workplaces, ensuring thousands of vehicles move around daily.
Up until 7th October, the seven-day moving average saw driving activity at 104% of the baseline, with a peak of 118% on Friday 2nd October, according to Apple Mobility Data. This uses a baseline of a point in time, Monday 13th January, and tracing is published from 25th February. Without a YoY comparison, it’s difficult to interpret trends. The chart shows a recent dip below baseline, however in February this was also occurring, suggesting it isn’t just a result of the pandemic. In addition, TomTom congestion data for Belfast shows that traffic volumes have continued to build in recent weeks.
Retail and recreation locations, which includes shopping centres, saw pedestrian footfall at 80% of the pre-covid norm, according to Google Mobility Data. We’ve seen levels change within these locations as external factors such as weather play a role in dictating people movements. The same can be said for Parks which saw footfall dip to 90% of the baseline. Considering the time of year, levels of daylight and weather, this is to be expected. Notably, the weekend of 3rd – 4th October saw persistent rain across NI, with low temperatures.
Levels of footfall in and around grocery and pharmacy locations remains largely stable, at 93% of the baseline, a slight weekly improvement of 1%. Out of Home formats in retail environments continue to work hard to promote a range of messages to audiences, from FMCG products to public health advice. Workplace footfall also remained largely static this week, at 73% of the pre-covid norm. The week on week change is minimal, however the rolling average does show a small increase over time in the numbers visiting workplaces.
In a further boost to mobility further afield, Belfast City Airport announced a new service to Cardiff, starting in January. Eastern Airways will offer up to six flights a week, and increased capacity is also on the way for the Southampton and Teeside routes. This is a boost for the airport and will see increased passenger numbers through the terminal building which is home to a huge range of high impact OOH formats, which offer excellent targeting for B2B and ABC1 audiences.