Seaside towns have been the key beneficiaries from the re-opening of UK plc. But it has been an imbalanced process as Britain’s previously ignored coastal resorts bask in the sun whilst the major cities cower in the shadows of their high rise metropolitan centres. But, ‘winter is coming’ says one report, and that will require a man with a plan.
An anecdotal surge in footfall at Britain’s coastal resorts has been borne out by hard numbers – with research by think-tank the Centre for Cities suggesting visitation is up in Blackpool a full 30 per cent on pre-lockdown levels.
The latest study used tracker data from mobile phones to determine how rapidly some UK high streets are returning to “normal” levels of activity.
It found that some of the country’s most popular coastal destinations are indeed some of the fastest to return to (and in some cases, exceed) pre-Covid levels of footfall, and are markedly outperforming bigger cities inland.
Blackpool was an obvious example, with its increase in traffic standing in marked contrast to Liverpool and Manchester, which are currently seeing footfall of 57 per cent and 41 per cent (respectively) of their pre-lockdown levels. “Blackpool has had a good summer,” said Centre for Cities CEO Andrew Carter. “The increase in town centre footfall since June is among the highest in the UK and far exceeds nearby bigger cities such as Liverpool and Manchester.” Meanwhile, Carter channelled a little Game of Thrones in his warning government that the current surge may have a seasonal component to it. “Winter is coming,” he said, presumably in a moody gritty dialect. “The government should set out a plan for supporting hospitality and retail workers after the summer ends.”