Sheffield city centre footfall remains at least a fifth lower than pre-Covid levels

Council chiefs are trying to encourage people back to Sheffield city centre as footfall remains at least a fifth lower than pre-Covid levels.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 11:24 am

Latest data shows there were 213,732 visitors to the city centre for the week commencing May 17.

This was up from 185,416 for the previous week as restrictions had eased, but it remains at least 20 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The council has handed out more than £200m of grant funding while Business Sheffield has responded to 10,000 calls and provided 6,000 one to one advice sessions since March 2020.

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Town Hall.

At each step of the Government’s roadmap, the council has distributed its Reopening Guide for Business to 8,000 businesses directly and via partners such as The Chamber, Sheffield Bid and Hoteliers Association.

Checklists have been produced and distributed, including translation into 10 different languages, to help businesses understand what is expected of them.

But the council warns consumer needs are changing and restoring confidence is critical.

In a report, Diana Buckley, head of economic strategy and commissioning, says: "Sectors that are most reliant on social interaction or deemed non-essential, such as retail, hospitality and culture, have faced prolonged closure and even as they reopen, continue to face reductions in demand, as consumer confidence takes time to return.

"Covid has accelerated some pre-existing trends which businesses need to adapt to. It has brought about an acceleration of digital transformation and contact-free services, remote working and distance learning.

"The impact on the high street as a result of declining retail expenditure in physical shops and stores was already leading to questions about the future role for both city centres and districts centres, but it is clear that the raise in internet sales is here to stay.

"The peak of UK online sales as a share of retail sales was 36 per cent at its peak, and remains at 29 per cent now despite retail reopening."

The council's £2m Economy Recovery Fund has received over 80 applications and a £520,000 Welcome Back Fund will support communities hardest hit by the pandemic.