City centre footfall still down as Sheffield fails to bounce back from coronavirus

Sheffield city centre is finding it difficult to emerge from lockdown as office workers continue to work from home and the nighttime economy remains dormant, new figures have suggested.

By Dan Hayes
Friday, 3rd July 2020, 6:00 am

According to the latest visitor footfall data from the Centre for Cities, Sheffield has seen the fifth-lowest ‘bounce’ of any city in England since non-essential shops reopened on June 15.

Other cities that have struggled to recover since the three-month-long coronavirus lockdown was lifted last month include London, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and York.

The Centre for Cities says it fears services such as shops and restaurants in these larger city centres may struggle to remain open if significant numbers of office workers continue to work from home.

Stickers reminding customers to keep a safe distance while shopping have also appeared on The Moor.

However, Sheffield Business Improvement District manager Diane Jarvis said it was still too soon to say how long it might take for the city centre to recover from coronavirus and that footfall was increasing ‘week on week’.

She said: “It is helpful to see this initial report, but it is too early to suggest that Sheffield is struggling to emerge from lockdown based on anonymised mobile phone data.

“Not all high street businesses have reopened yet, the government advice remains only travel if essential and office workers are still working from home. City centre workers account for a significant proportion of the footfall in retail areas. The return to the city centre will be gradual. We need people to come back in a measured way.

“Sheffield city centre has experienced an increase in footfall week on week since non-essential retail reopened w/c 15 June and that is very encouraging.

“It is good news for the local economy that more businesses can reopen from this weekend and we are confident that people will support our local cafes, restaurants and pubs given the safety measures being put in place by local businesses.”

The Government announced last month that pubs, restaurants, hotels and cinemas can all reopen if they wish to on July 4 - dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

However, some public health experts worry that if restrictions are relaxed too soon it could lead to a so-called ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 infections later in the year.

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