High Streets Task Force PRDG July 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 July 2020 insight report includes significant detail on high street footfall, business impacts, social media activity and sentiment, and mobility data.

Date added 31 July 2020
Last updated 17 August 2020

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 July 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 includes:

  • Footfall data for the UK demonstrating that it has been falling since the end of February and that footfall on the 23rd July 2020 is down 43.2% compared to the same figure last year, but up 6.1% compared to the same figure last week. On Saturday 4th July there was a slight increase in overall footfall, +20.9% compared to same figure previous week. This can be explained by pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopening.
  • ONS data showing the business impact of COVID-19 in the UK. The data illustrates that the majority of businesses do indeed continue to trade, apart from in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector where only 39.1% of businesses surveyed continue to trade. There is still an overall fall in turnover for 57.6% of businesses surveyed, and 21.5% reported having workforce on furlough. It also shows that operating costs have increased across sectors due to implementing safety measures, especially in customer facing industries. This data also shows how the virus has disproportionately affected specific sectors within the economy, particularly arts, entertainment and recreation, and accommodation and food service activities. It also shows how non-store retail sales increased by 24.3% in the past three months and by 21% since April and online spending experienced the highest proportion on record in May 2020 at 33.4%.
  • Maybe* data demonstrating that since lockdown, the % of organisations active on social media has fallen dramatically, a consistent trend across the UK. A survey conducted with 20,000 shoppers also indicates that, despite 46% of respondents feeling that safety measures on the high streets are ‘satisfactory’, 32% are still nervous about shopping again.
  • PwC consumer sentiment data showing that, despite the continuing lockdown and economic uncertainty, sentiment is resilient. June’s survey found sentiment of -11, a slight recovery on May and April 2020, but a significant improvement on -26 in March 2020.
  • Google Mobility data illustrating that more people are visiting parks across the countries presented, especially during public holidays. However, despite re-opening of the hospitality sector in the UK, mobility in the other categories has remained steady.

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