York is in the top ten of cities in the country for footfall recovery, indicating a city centre economy that is bouncing back.
Latest figures come from Centre for Cities, a national think tank, and are based on anonymised mobile phone data and offline credit card spend.
However, city councillors say while the same data source indicates spend is well up on pre-pandemic levels, anecdotal evidence from city centre retailers suggests there is still some way to go for York’s city centre economy to return to normal.
Labour Group Leader and economy spokesperson, Cllr Claire Douglas said:
“These figures offer reasons for optimism and indicate that York has largely weathered the storm of Covid and three national lockdowns over the past two years. It’s clear that visitor numbers are buoyant again, and we must recognise the tremendously important role independent businesses play in attracting this footfall back to the city.
“But while Centre for Cities data shows spend is well up on the pre-Covid period, this is considered overly optimistic by local retailers. Obviously, the hospitality industry is enjoying the benefits of pent-up demand, but the cost of living crisis is also making many local people and visitors from further afield tighten their belts when it comes to spending, so it’s not a consistent picture.
“Labour’s message though is simple; support York’s local and independent traders as much as possible. They truly are the life blood of York’s retail success”.
Centre for Cities data provides data on weekday footfall, weekend footfall, and evening footfall. The former is used as a proxy for workers returning to their place of work and although not 100% accurate, the indicator suggests footfall was largely back to normal by October last year.
Only evening footfall is recorded as having not yet quite returned to normal levels.
On spend, relative to pre-Covid levels, York sits much higher than other popular visitor destinations sitting in the bottom ten nationally such as Oxford, London and Edinburgh, according to the data, sitting just outside the national top ten.