Pubs bars and restaurants continue to drive post-Covid recovery of Britain’s top cities, but with soaring costs for consumers and businesses, the hospitality sector needs urgent support to keep cities vibrant.
The joint ‘Top Cities’ report combines CGA sales data with device log-in data from Wireless Social, to provide a ‘vibrancy’ ranking of Britain’s 10 most populous cities over the four weeks to 27 August 2022.
Glasgow was dubbed the UK’s second most vibrant city, with Leicester and Liverpool also featuring in the chart in third and fourth place respectively.
On the other end of the rankings, London is in 10th place – extending a run that has seen it finish no higher than eighth place in any period so far this year.
CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “Restaurants, pubs and bars are integral to city-centre life, especially at a time when so much of retail has moved online, and they are at the heart of Britain’s recovery from the Covid crisis.
“But as these figures show, that recovery is increasingly threatened by the impact of soaring fuel and food costs on businesses and consumers alike.
“Trading is likely to remain challenging for some time to come, and hospitality needs and deserves urgent support from government on energy bills, taxes and more if it is to continue creating jobs and investment in the country’s city centres."
Sales and footfall in the capital have suffered due to a shortage of office workers and tourists despite the ending of restrictions from the pandemic.
Leeds’ performance mirrored that of London with the city staying in the bottom of the vibrancy rankings, driven by a negative sales performance and lower wireless login figures.
At risk of slowing
The report also revealed signs hospitality’s city-centre recovery is at risk of slowing. Sales in four of Britain’s 10 biggest cities were lower than in the equivalent pre-Covid period in 2019, while footfall, as measured by device log-ins, was behind in all 10.
This could reflect the squeeze on consumer spending as the cost-of-living crisis continues to put pressure on the sector, as well as the effect of rail strikes on city travel.
Wireless Social founder and chief executive Julian Ross said it was good to see footfall and sales performance on the rise across the board in English cities. However, he added, the continued slow response in London was concerning.
He continued: “While the government’s recently announced support package on energy bills is set to be extremely beneficial for small and large businesses in our sector, it’s vital that the support doesn’t simply dry up.
“There are, of course, the options of reduced VAT and business rates relief still available to the Government, and this level of further support is very likely going to be a requirement over the coming months.”
Britain’s 10 biggest cities, ranked by vibrancy
1 Birmingham (2)
2 Glasgow (1)
3 Leicester (5)
4 Liverpool (7)
5= Bristol (3)
5= Manchester (4)
7 Edinburgh (6)
8 Sheffield (8)
9 Leeds (10)
10 London (9)