'Bounce back' for Luton's shops, pubs and restaurants with increased footfall
Luton town centre is 'bouncing back' at a faster rate than the rest of the country, according to the latest analytic data from Google.
Shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in Luton saw a boost in visitors following the reopening of indoor hospitality in May.
Google location data from phones and other personal devices shows the trends in people's movement in different parts of their daily lives.
It compares footfall in areas such as restaurants, cafes and shopping centres, with data from previous years before the Covid-19 crisis.
The figures showed that in Luton, average activity across these areas was just 20% below normal levels across the two weekends of May 8-9 and May 15-16, while the national average was 35% below normal.
Similarly, across the Spring Bank Holiday weekend of May 31, Luton was just 5% below normal levels, compared to the national drop of 11%.
Then across the final two weekends with data, July 3-4 and July 10-11 – footfall in Luton was 9% below pre-pandemic levels - still far better than the national average of 18% below normal.
The figures will have been impacted by the easing of Covid restrictions across England on May 17, which allowed restaurants and pubs to open indoor areas for food and drink.
Julia Horsman, Luton BID project manager said: “We were delighted to have been ranked in the top ten UK retail recoveries back in April, so this is another hugely encouraging report. It is fantastic to see our town centre continuing to bounce back in many different sectors.
"The strong and enduring business community in Luton, and our positive town centre partnership, which includes Luton BID, Bedfordshire Police, The Mall, Luton Council, The Galaxy Centre, The Culture Trust and other organisations, will certainly have contributed to this.
“We are very proud to have worked with and supported our BID businesses and partners throughout the pandemic, as we all strive to bring the buzz back in a safe and secure way so that shoppers and visitors can have an enjoyable experience.
“The fact that Luton is ranked so highly against some of the big cities shows that people are continuing to support their local economy – this is great news for our town.”
Sian Timoney, portfolio holder for regeneration at Luton Borough Council, added: “After the year our businesses have had, good news like this is very welcome indeed.
“We have a very strong sense of community here in Luton and it’s great to hear that customers are returning to our shops, pubs and restaurants.
"It goes without saying this is also a testament to our hardworking businesses and town centre partners.
“We all want to get back to something like normality and supporting your local town centre is a great way to do it.
“We must all keep the health and wellbeing of ourselves and those most vulnerable in society at the forefront of our minds; getting vaccinated, wearing masks and maintaining a distance from one another will help to keep us all safe.
“But we are also keen to look forward.
“Earlier this month we launched our Town Centre Masterplan. This is our vision for the next 20 to 30 years and includes opening up a section of the River Lea, new green spaces, restaurants, shops and a revamped rail station.
“It will be a vital part of the town’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and our long-term vision for Luton.
“You can find out more about the plan by visiting our website.”