High Streets Task Force PRDG April 2021 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 April 2021 insight report includes significant detail on high street footfall, business impacts, and social media sentiment data. It is available both as a PDF and video recording.

Date added 13 October 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 April 2021 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)
  • Cardiff University
  • Centre for Towns (CfT)
  • 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 two versions: PDF report (attached above) and video recording (click here). This month's data pack includes:

  • Footfall data for the UK demonstrating that it has been falling since the end of February and that footfall on the 11th May 2021 was down 40.8% compared to the same day in 2019, but up 7.0% compared to the same day last week.
  • Opening up review of data looking at footfall, retail sales and vacancy rates in the aspect of the re-opening after lockdowns.
  • Maybe* data showing high street social media activity and sentiment data from locations found on Google Maps looking at handles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  • ONS data showing the business impact of COVID-19 in the UK. The data illustrates that the majority of businesses do continue to trade, apart from in the Accommodation and Food Service Activities sector where only 60.8% of businesses surveyed continue to trade. There is still an overall fall in turnover for 34.1% of businesses surveyed, however, only 12.6% reported having workforce on furlough. As such, this data shows how the virus has disproportionately affected specific sectors within the economy, particularly Accommodation and Food Service Activities followed by Arts, Entertainment and Recreation. In March 2021, retail sales volumes increased by 5.4% compared to February 2021. Volumes were in fact 1.6% higher when compared with February 2020 pre-lockdown level. Online sales experienced a slight decrease, accounting for 32.8% of total retail sales in March, down from 34.6% the month before (-1.8%).

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