The study, based on CGA sales data and device log-ins from Wireless Social, revealed hospitality visits made by consumers. The first edition of the monthly reports ranked vibrancy in key cities over four weeks to 15 January 2022, including the festive season where the Omicron Covid variant was rampant.
The data classed Leeds as the most vibrant city with a 0.2% drop in sales against the same period in 2019, ahead of Glasgow, Bristol and Birmingham where pub, bar and restaurant sales held up relatively well in late December and early January.
London comes in at the bottom of the rankings, having suffered a 19% drop in sales, highlighting the devastating impact of work-from-home instructions and reduced tourism to the capital. Check-ins in London were 43% lower than the same period two years ago.
CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “It has been an immensely difficult two years for hospitality businesses in city centres, and these vibrancy figures reveal the damaging impact that Covid constraints have had on footfall and sales in late 2021 and early 2022.
“With restrictions hopefully now behind us and many workers returning to offices, we should see British cities start to return to pre-Covid norms in consumer activity over the course of this year”.
Sales and log-ins were down on pre-Covid levels in other major British cities. Yet, separate research by CGA has indicated that while visitor numbers have dropped in recent months, average spend has slightly risen, and consumer confidence has been built back since the festive period.
Rebuilding the sector
According to Wireless Social chief executive and founder Julian Ross, it was “vitally important” the sector was able to rebuild and develop in a restriction free environment. Whilst the report’s findings were “sobering”, Ross was hopeful the combo of pent-up consumer demand and declining Covid cases would positively impact activity across hospitality venues.
He said: “Going out and supporting hospitality is more important than ever, with stark increases in business rates, VAT and energy bills around the corner, so we’re hopeful our next report will see a significant improvement in activity”.
Britain’s 10 biggest cities ranked by vibrancy: