These Yorkshire cities are thriving since lockdown ended, but others face a tough future

York, Doncaster and Hull have seen the biggest boost to footfall in Yorkshire since the lockdown ended, while other cities and towns like Leeds, Bradford, Barnsley and Wakefield have all suffered.

Shopping has changed since the pandemic broke out
Shopping has changed since the pandemic broke out

New data from the Centre for Cities High Street Recovery Tracker also showed how the Chancellor’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has affected Yorkshire’s high streets and city centres.

Since the week of June 29, York footfall has risen by 35 per cent and is now at 75 per cent of pre lockdown levels.

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Meanwhile, Eat Out To Help Out has had the biggest positive effect in Doncaster, boosting footfall on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the city by 20 per cent.

This is the fourth highest bounce in the whole of the UK and Doncaster’s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night footfall is now back to 82 per cent of pre-lockdown levels.

In stark contrast, Bradford’s city centre footfall hasn’t increased at all over the summer, while footfall in Leeds, Barnsley and Wakefield has remained below the UK average.

Centre for Cities said areas like Leeds have suffered because many office workers are still working from home and Leeds has a higher percentage of office workers than tourist hot spots like York.

A spokesman for Centre for Cities said: “Bigger cities’ centres have had smaller Eat Out To Help Out booms and this is likely to be due to office workers remaining at home. On the other hand tourist places, such as York or seaside towns, have seen bigger increases in footfall.”

The firm said that despite the Government’s calls to get people back to the office, the number of people returning to work in Yorkshire’s largest cities and towns has not increased at all – and in many places has fallen even further.

It said the persistently low numbers of workers going back into city centres reinforces the concerns for the future of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars that depend on office workers for custom.

Leeds, York and Sheffield saw a zero increase in worker footfall between June 29 and August 7. Doncaster saw a 2 per cent fall, whilst Hull, Huddersfield and Bradford have all seen a 3 per cent decline in footfall. Wakefield was down 4 per cent and Barnsley has been the worst hit in Yorkshire - down 5 per cent.

Centre for Cities’ chief executive, Andrew Carter, said: “Good weather and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme have helped increase the number of visitors to city and town centres, but a question mark remains over whether the footfall increase that we have seen this summer can be sustained into the autumn without the good weather and Government incentive – particularly with so many people still working from home.

“Shops, restaurants and pubs face an uncertain future while office workers remain at home.

“So, in the absence of a big increase in people returning to the office, the Government must set out how it will support the people working in city centre retail and hospitality who could well find themselves out of a job by Christmas.”

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James Mitchinson