The number of people visiting restaurants in Liverpool ONE in August was up almost a third compared to the same period last year, new figures show.
Compared to July, Liverpool ONE saw an 85 per cent rise in visitor numbers to eateries, while across the city centre there was a 27 per cent rise in overall footfall compared to the previous month, hitting pre-lockdown levels.
At the latter end of August, Liverpool ONE reported footfall growth of three per cent compared to last year, with the final week proving to be the second busiest week of the year so far.
Data from Liverpool BID Company, which manages both Business Improvement Districts in the city centre, shows that on Wednesday 26 August, there were a total of 180,154 people in the city centre, compared to 182,145 on Wednesday 11 March – just before shops and restaurants were ordered to shut.
The data, which can be accessed here, shows:
● The biggest impact was on Mondays, where there was a noticeable increase in footfall throughout August, compared with Mondays in July
● Retail and hospitality reopening had the biggest increase on city centre footfall in June and July
● The good weather in July, and then later August, helped to boost the figures as people take advantage of Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool’s Liverpool Without Walls and outside dining offer
Liverpool City Council launched a £450,000 fund in June to help local small to medium sized businesses redesign outdoor spaces and turn them into high quality, covered seating areas – making up for the internal space they have lost as a result of social distancing restrictions.
It has seen Bold Street closed to traffic across the summer and attractive wooden parklets installed along the road, transforming the area, which has proved to be hugely popular with businesses and visitors. Part of Castle Street has also been temporarily closed to traffic, enabling venues to spill out on to the streets. Altogether it has created 2,700 extra covers for drinking and dining in the city centre.
This initiative forms part of a wider recovery plan which has also seen a special fund created aimed at the city’s arts organisations and freelance community to bring culture to the streets of Liverpool which began running over the August bank holiday weekend and continues across the coming two weekends.
Despite the improvement, footfall across the city centre remains down around a third on August last year, largely due to a lack of international tourists and fewer office workers.
Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan, said: “These encouraging figures demonstrates clearly that the work we have been doing over the last few months is making a huge difference to the economy of the city centre.
“Make no mistake: people have been given the confidence to return to the city centre as a result of the work we are doing with Liverpool BID Company and the Chamber of Commerce, and for some independent businesses it will have been the difference between surviving or going under.
“The hospitality sector is hugely important to the city and we are determined to do all we can to help it through this unprecedented period, so people can enjoy our restaurants, bars and cafes in a safe way.
“We are now on with funding pop-up cultural events in the city centre so people can enjoy street entertainment in a safe and controlled way.”
Ian Silverberg, Deputy Chair of Liverpool BID Company, said: “Liverpool does buck the trend in a lot of ways. The restaurants are getting busier. The pedestrianisation of Castle Street, that’s done very well and Bold Street as well.
“I’ve been in each day and noticed each week, every week that there have been more and more people outside and you could see more people walking across the street.”
Donna Howitt, Marketing and Communications Director at Liverpool ONE, said: “Confidence is returning to the city centre and we are delighted with the growth in visitor numbers, which is ahead of that in other areas of the country
“Social distancing and hand hygiene measures continue to be enforced and they are as important now as when first implemented for the easing of lockdown.
“We are looking forward to students returning to the city in September which will help to support recovery post a strong August.”