Loughborough University
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When COVID-19 came to town: Measuring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on footfall on six high streets in England

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-09-09, 15:35 authored by Marcus EnochMarcus Enoch, Fredrik Monsuur, Falli Palaiologou, Mohammed Quddus, Fiona Ellis-ChadwickFiona Ellis-Chadwick, Craig MortonCraig Morton, Rod Rayner
Town centres in the economically developed world have struggled in recent years to attract sufficient visitors to remain economically sustainable. However, decline has not been uniform, and there is considerable variation in how different town centres have coped with these challenges. The arrival of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic public health emergency in early 2020 has provided an additional reason for people to avoid urban centres for a sustained period. This paper investigates the impact of coronavirus on footfall in six town centres in England that exhibit different characteristics. It presents individual time series intervention model results based on data collected from Wi-fi footfall monitoring equipment and secondary sources over a 2-year period to understand the significance of the pandemic on different types of town centre environment. The data show that footfall levels fell by 57%–75% as a result of the lockdown applied in March 2020 and have subsequently recovered at different rates as the restrictions have been lifted. The results indicate that the smaller centres modelled have tended to be less impacted by the pandemic, with one possible explanation being that they are much less dependent on serving longer-distance commuters and on visitors making much more discretionary trips from further afield. It also suggests that recovery might take longer than previously thought. Overall, this is the first paper to study the interplay between footfall and resilience (as opposed to vitality) within the town centre context and to provide detailed observations on the impact of the first wave of coronavirus on town centres’ activity.



  • Business and Economics
  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


  • Business

Published in

Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science






1091 - 1111


SAGE Publications


  • VoR (Version of Record)

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© The Authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by SAGE under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Prof Marcus Enoch. Deposit date: 6 September 2021