Northamptonshire punters flood back to shops, pubs and cafes after lockdown

Levels still far from pre-Covid heights, but British Retail Consortium hopes shoppers will feel more confident heading out with Covid-19 cases dropping

People in Northamptonshire flocked back to shops, pubs and cafes last weekend as lockdown restrictions eased, figures show.

Location data from Google reveals that non-essential retail and recreation venues were much busier last Saturday (April 17) than the previous Saturday – though they were still far from reaching pre-pandemic levels.

The figures show average activity in Northamptonshire’s hospitality venues and non-essential shops was 203 per cent lower last Saturday than pre-pandemic levels, recorded during a five-week period early in 2020.

But that was higher than on Saturday April 10, when activity was 426 per cent below normal.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson hopes that with Covid-19 cases dropping, shoppers will feel more confident heading out.

“While footfall at shopping destinations was significantly up in the first week of reopening, compared to the week prior, it still remains below pre-pandemic levels,” she said.

“Monday was by far the best day for retailers in England and Wales, as the novelty of shopping at non-essential stores helped footfall to its highest levels in months.”

Google uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people’s movement in their daily lives.

Northamptonshire’s stats reflected the picture across the UK, where visits to shops and food establishments were 37 per cent lower than before the pandemic last Saturday.

The previous week’s activity was 57 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

The data reflects activity across the whole of the UK, though non-essential shops only re-opened in England and Wales, and hospitality venues only in England, with restrictions.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants in England are currently only allowed to seat customers outdoors, meaning re-opening last Monday was unviable or not possible for many businesses.

The restrictions are due to be reviewed soon and it is hoped that venues will be able to welcome guests indoors from May 17.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Only when all our pubs can fully re-open as normal will they be viable businesses and in the green once more.”

The figures also show that more people used public transport as activity across Northamptonshire’s transport hubs was 285 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, compared to 395 per cent down the week before.