Uttlesford's shops still suffer from low footfall, Google data shows

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The number of people visiting shops is still down, despite lockdown easing. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Uttlesford's shops and visitor attractions are still suffering from low footfall despite lockdown easing, data suggests.

According to figures from Google, footfall at the district's retail and recreation destinations between Saturday, May 1 and last Friday (May 7) was down 29 percent compared to the pre-pandemic 'baseline' between January 3 and February 6, 2020.

But this is a significant improvement from the first week of lockdown this year (January 4-10), when visitor numbers were 63 percent lower than the pre-pandemic baseline.

Rachel Clarke, from Great Dunmow Town Team, said this is likely an accurate picture of where retail stands in Uttlesford this year.

She said: "I think it is correct that footfall is down, but I would urge customers to come back.

"Businesses are making sure they have the right measures in place, sticking to government guidelines."

A town square with tables scattered around it for social distanced dining

There have been several schemes to promote retail and recreational spaces in Uttlesford, including Saffron Walden's 'Alfresco in the Square'. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Rachel added that while shop floors may be quieter, local online shopping schemes - such as the Uttlesford District Council-funded Click it Local scheme - have enabled local shopping to continue over the pandemic.

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She said: "People have tended towards online shopping, which is why Click it Local came about.

"The shops have added themselves to this giving them access to the online market."

In Saffron Walden, Mayor Richard Porch said: "We are already beginning to see customers coming back.

"We expect a return to full capacity given the attraction of our town."

Retail has been hit particularly hard since Christmas 2020 after non-essential traders were forced to close shops and stalls during lockdown.

Restrictions to non-essential shopping ended on April 12, with further lockdown easing expected on Monday (May 17).

Stay at home restrictions also ended on April 12.

Google's data shows that, on average, 19 percent more people were at home day-to-day in the first week of 2021 than the pre-pandemic baseline.

This dropped to 10 percent above the baseline last week, with data suggesting more people visited supermarkets, parks and their workplaces.

Doctors Pond at Great Dunmow

More people are visiting parks and gardens in Uttlesford since the January lockdown. Pictured: Doctors Pond, Dunmow. - Credit: Archant

The data is gathered from people who use Google apps and have opted in to share their Location History with the tech giant.