The latest Business Insight Update from Liverpool BID Company takes an in-depth look at the recovery in footfall following the ease of Covid restrictions and how this is being driven by the night-time economy. We also look at how this increase in evening footfall has impacted spend in the city. You can read the main highlights in the article below, or download the full report on the button just here.

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Liverpool city centre footfall analysis

Did people travel to Liverpool in July 2021?

There was another increase in footfall in July, up 1.5% from the June footfall (when the figures were adjusted to represent like-with-like, as per the ‘^^^’ description below). This represented a YoY figure of -15.6%, which is slightly lower than the YoY from June. This small drop in comparative footfall is likely explained by the heavy rainfall toward the end of the month.

It’s worth noting that Liverpool’s YoY footfall percentage when compared with 2019 and pre-pandemic figures, is considerably closer to returning to those 2019 figures than other parts of the country and the UK as a whole. This is testament to work across the city trying both to ensure that people feel safe returning to the city and that people feel they can participate in the economy once there.

The footfall analysis below provides a little more insight into the times of day that people are predominantly returning, why this is the case, and the impacts this could have on the make-up of the city moving forward.

The impact of the night-time economy on footfall

The graph below shows the percentage difference in footfall between Week 29 of 2019 (chosen to represent an average week during summer 2019) and Week 30 of 2021 (the second week after full re-opening)

The following outcomes can be noted:

  • Friday footfall is nearly back to pre-pandemic figures
  • Sundays are still the quietest day of the week across all time segments
  • Early mornings (midnight-7pm) outperforming 2019, doubling 2019 figures across the week, especially Sunday to Tuesday and Thursdays, while reaching 50% increases on the other days
  • Late evening 9pm-midnight, averaging 40-50% increases versus 2019 across all days, except Fridays, which has levelled with 2019
  • Early evening (5pm-9pm) are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels ranging between -5% to -10% across the week versus 2019
  • There is still a gap in footfall recovery from 7am-5pm, which has stagnated at ~-25% across the week, except on Fridays, when it is almost level with pre-pandemic figures

The impact of visitors on the nightime economy

One possible explanation for the significant increase in evening / night-time traffic in the city, and it’s effects on the hospitality sector (see ‘Liverpool city spend analysis’ below), is the return of the domestic tourist to Liverpool.

The below graph shows the proportion of visitors to Liverpool according to the distance from where they travelled to come to the city. We’ve used August 2020 and June 2021 benchmarks (both of which had some, but not significant restrictions on travel) against July 2021, when restrictions were fully eased.

As you’ll see, the proportion of visitors coming from 11-20km, 21-30km, 31-40km or 41-50km away, remained very consistent (and likely lower than pre-Covid times) across our three periods of comparison.

This could partially be explained by the low return of office workers (and thus commuters) to the city. The proportion of people travelling from farther afield (50km+, and thus not commuting distance), however, significantly increased in July 2021, suggesting that domestic tourism is having a huge impact on the make-up of the visitors to the city.

Where did people travel from to visit Liverpool in August 2020

The below map shows the distribution of visitors to Liverpool in August 2020, which will give us a benchmark of who was visiting the city following the easing of restrictions in 2020. You can see how this has changed in July 2021 on the map alongisde, showing the distribution in July 2021.

The percentages in the various areas show the proportion of visitors from outside the initial 50km+ radius around Liverpool.

Where did people travel from to visit Liverpool in July 2021

The below map shows the distribution of visitors coming from 50km+ to Liverpool in July 2021, so we can compare this catchment to August 2020.

A greater proportion of people travelled to Liverpool from 50km+ away during this period, with the proportion from this catchment jumping from 17% to 24%. The greater increases have been seen on:

  • South Scotland +1.9
  • Northern Ireland +1.8
  • Midlands +0.9
  • Rest of locations +2.2

It’s worth noting that in Northern Ireland and Scotland Covid restrictions were still in place during July 2021, limiting the capacity of people to socialize and access the night-time economy.

Most Covid restrictions ended in Scotland on 8 August while some restrictions were lifted on 26 July in Northern Ireland.

Liverpool city spend analysis

Spend analysis: recovery post lockdown – Q1 2021 vs Q2 2021

The graph below shows the total spend in L1, L2 and L3 for Q1 2021 and Q2 2021, broken down by Online spend, Merchant spend (card spend in stores) and Non-Visa spend (cash spend).

The first thing to note here is that, as expected, the total spend in Q2 was significantly higher than Q1: Across the types of spend, £248m more was spent in Q2 than in Q1.

In person card spend (Merchant spend) almost trebled in Q2, up from £97m in Q1 to £284m. In person cash spend (Non-Visa spend) almost doubled in Q2, up from £90m in Q1 to £162m.

Notably, and encouragingly, the huge increase in in-person spend (both by cash and card) did not ‘crowd out’ Online spend, as there was virtually no offset in Online spend in Q2. There was only a drop of 9% in Online spend in Q2 (down from £123m in Q1 to £112m), which suggests that gains made online for retailers will likely be maintained moving forward.

The graph below shows the total spend in L1, L2 and L3 for Q1 2021 and Q2 2021, broken down by sector.

A number of sectors, as you can see, had a spend in Q2 similar to or less than Q1. The significantly higher spend on ‘Building Materials & Services’ in Q1 could speak to the infrastructure work and home improvements that was able to take place in Q1.

As one would expect, the highest spending sectors in general, and the ones that were closed during the continual lockdown in Q1, had a drastic upturn in spend once they reopened in

Q2. The additional £65m spent in Q2 in the ‘Restaurants’ sector was the biggest monetary increase, whilst ‘Retail & High St’, ‘Clothing’ and ‘Accommodation’ saw monetary increases of £28m, £16m and £9m respectively.

Spend analysis: return to pre-Covid spend – Q1 2020 vs Q2 2021

The graph here shows the total spend in L1, L2 and L3 for Q1 2020 (pre-pandemic) and Q2 2021, broken down by Online spend, Merchant spend (card spend in stores) and Non-Visa spend (cash spend).

The first notable thing about these figures is that Q2 of 2021 had a total spend of £84m more than Q1 of 2020. Whilst part of this can be explained by the fact that Q1 spending is any year (post-Xmas) is slightly lower than the other quarters, Q2 is still generally lower than Q3 or Q4, and so such a high spend in Q2 is hugely encouraging.

This increase in spend can somewhat be attributed to the expansion in Online spend that has resulted from lockdown, and continued post-lockdown. More significant, however, is the £36m increase of in-store card spend: this suggests that, although footfall patterns have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, this has not impacted spending negatively for in-person purchases.

The graph here shows the total spend in L1, L2 and L3 for Q1 2020 (pre-pandemic) and Q2 2021, broken down by sector. Once again the ‘Period (1)’ refers to Q1 2020 and the ‘Period (2)’ refers to Q2 2021.

Encouragingly, a number of the sectors returned to the spending levels of Q1 of 2020 in Q2 of 2021. The recovery of the ‘Accommodation’ sector, in particular, suggests that the overall increase in spending is being driven by people coming into the city and staying. This is also reflected in the increase in ‘Restaurant’ spend, meaning that Hospitality as a whole is thriving as people seek to re-socialise.

The significant decrease in ‘Clothing’ spending could be explained by the disproportionate and consistently high Online spending during the quarters where lockdown was still in place. Similarly, an increase in ‘Retail & High St’ spending speaks to people wanting to browse and spend in person.

What to be aware of from August 2021 onward…

Cruises are coming to Liverpool!

We’ve had confirmation from Cruise Liverpool that a number of cruises stopping in Liverpool over the next few weeks will allow their guests to tour the city independently following the easing of restrictions. As such, you may expect to see an upturn in visitor traffic form the following cruises:

Wednesday 17 August: Marella Explorer 2

Wednesday 25 August: Marella Explorer

Monday 30 August: Celebrity Silhoutette

Saturday 4 September: Marella Explorer 2

Thursday 23 September: Celebrity Silhoutette

You can see the full Cruise Schedule on the Cruise Liverpool website here.

Events at the ACC

With the easing of restrictions and the return of live events, watch out for the following events at the ACC in the coming weeks:

Sunday 22 August: Can you Dance?

Sunday 22 August: The Drifters

Saturday 4 September: The ELO Show – The World’s Greatest Tribute

You can see the full event list here.

If you would like to receive the monthly event listing directly into your inbox, contact

Running events in Liverpool

Courtesy of BTR Road Runners, there are a number of runs starting an finishing in Liverpool city centre in the coming weeks and months. Watch out for:

Sunday 12 September, Liverpool Half Marathon & 10 Miler: starts at Pier Head, works its way up to Sefton Park, and then heads back along the waterfront promenade to finish back in the city.

Sunday 26 September, Mersey Tunnel 10k: starts just yards from the emergency Tunnel exit road on Blackstock Street on the Liverpool side of the River Mersey, and drops directly down on to the main approach road into the tunnel. The race finishes at New Brighton.

Sunday 5 December, Appreciate Liverpool Santa Dash: The Liverpool Santa Dash is the biggest and longest established Santa Run in the UK. Starts at Pier Head, flows through the centre, before passing through Royal Albert Dock and finishes in front of the Town Hall.

You can find out full details of all the events here, on the BTR Road Runner site.

Stay up to date with transport and opportunities

Have a look at the latest transport disruption and road works in the city centre, along with checking the latest BID opportunities for your business.