Retail footfall nears baseline

[14 August] Once again, mobility across NI has increased, with driving activity at 47% above baseline until 11th August. Week on week, we’ve seen a further 4% growth, and the weekly moving average is 46% above the pre-covid level. With our report last week that TV audiences were in decline, OOH is an even more attractive offering as audiences enjoy the warm weather and spend increasing amounts of time out of their home.

As we reported earlier in the summer, lots of people in NI were planning to wait until mid-August or September to take a short break. This is reflected in the mobility data as we see continued uplift across all tracking averages.

Retail audiences at 99% of baseline

The most exciting insight of the week is in the retail and recreation pedestrian footfall monitoring. Monday 3rd August saw footfall at 99% of the baseline norm, and while we can’t be certain, it’s highly likely that this is attributed to the launch of the Eat out to help out scheme, attracting large audiences to cafes, bars and restaurants in towns across NI. High levels of footfall in Belfast, at 41% above the baseline is reassuring for all retailers and hospitality businesses in the city centre.

Workplace footfall has also increased slightly, at 65% of the pre-covid norm, as more and more people return to city and town centres for work. Grocery and Pharmacy footfall is largely static, with only small weekly fluctuations. We don’t anticipate seeing large uplifts in this category, due to the increase in popularity of online grocery shopping which isn’t expected to slow down at any stage.

In Belfast, the overall increase in footfall is reflected in all metrics, with a reassuring jump in the number of people using public transit, now at 26% below the baseline. School pupils will also account for a large number of passengers on buses and trains, so we would expect to see these figures continue to grow.