High Streets Task Force PRDG May 2020 Insight Report

Data from the Task Force Professional Research and Data Group, generated in order to inform practice and policy for high streets across England. This May 2020 insight report includes significant detail on high street footfall, business impacts, and social media and sentiment data. It is available as a PDF.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 13 October 2021

The Professional Research and Data Group, is a key part of the High Streets Task Force. Since COVID-19 the High Streets Task Force has pivoted to focus on supporting place leaders through COVID-19 crisis. This has meant refocusing the PRDG to a new aim; to work collaboratively, using our data, networks, skills and expertise to:

  • Understand the scale of the crisis and its impact on town centres/high streets
  • Support government with evidence/data for policy/response
  • Provide/sense-check the evidence-base for HSTF action and messaging

This May 2020 presentation summarises the latest data, research and insight the members of the PRDG have generated in order to inform practice and policy for high streets across England.

The PRDG membership is:

  • Royal Town Planning Institute (Chair)
  • Institute of Place Management (Research Lead & team)
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Maybe*
  • Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
  • Springboard
  • Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • Ordnance Survey
  • PwC (secretariat)

This month’s PRDG research summary is available in one version: PDF report (attached above). This month's data pack includes:

  • Footfall data for the UK demonstrating that it has been falling since the end of February, but that there were spikes in early May (5th) of up to 41.8% increase in footfall, week-on-week, in multifunctional town centres.

  • ONS data showing the business impact of COVID-19 in the UK, including a fall in turnover for 57.5% of businesses surveyed and 41% laying off staff. Despite this 72.1% of businesses surveyed up to 5th April were still 'confident'. This data also shows how the virus has disproportionately affected specific sectors within the economy, particularly accomodation and food service activities, and arts, entertainment and recreation.

  • An increase in social media activity of UK towns immediately prior to the start of the lockdown period on 23rd March, but a subsequent decrease in business use of social media just as consumer use is rising by as much as 40%

  • Business resilience survey results from the Institute of Place Management from a significant sample of over 1000 high street businesses. This showed the vulnerability of many, given reduced income, with nearly 25% of businesses estimating they would cease trading within 3-4 months without support. This survey includes a business resilience score for each sector included, finding that amongst the least resilient are food and beverage businesses, service businesses, and retailers.

  • PwC data showing that consumer sentiment is improving slightly as lockdown continues, after initially taking a fall of 26% as the schools closed. However, their data has a key finding that sentiment is still better than during the global financial crisis of 2007/08 and the subsequent austerity periods.