Festive season drives footfall back to city centres

By Shwetali Sapte

- Last updated on GMT

Festive Christmas season drives footfall back to city centres

Related tags Christmas Wireless Social Cga

Pubs, restaurants, and bars have seen sales rise with the beginning of the festive season, but gains remain below the 11% level of inflation, new figures show.

According to the latest Top Cities report from CGA and Wireless Social, venues in eight out of 10 cities across the UK saw sales growth of 4% in the four weeks to 19 November compared to the same period in 2021, with sales 5% higher vs 2019 levels – likely driven by the start of the festive season but a sign that city centre footfall is returning to pre-Covid levels.

However, high inflation and rail strikes continue to make trading conditions challenging, with city centre sales still behind both 2021 and 2019 levels when accounting for inflation.

“Restaurants, pubs and bars have steadily built back from COVID-19 turmoil over the course of 2022, and these latest figures are encouraging for the key festive season,” says Chris Jeffrey, CGA client director.

“The World Cup, Christmas markets and parties should all deliver good footfall and spending, but the costs crisis and prospect of more rail strikes cast a shadow over the crucial final weeks of the year. Consumers are as keen as ever to eat and drink out, but with so many challenges not of their own making, some city-centre businesses face a make-or-break Christmas.”

Manchester topped the list of the most vibrant cities for the third time, ahead of Glasgow and Birmingham, while London sits at the bottom of the rankings for the fourth period, despite improving sales and log-ins.

“There is continued appetite from consumers to go out and visit their favourite hospitality venues, which we’re seeing in this latest report,” says Julian Ross, founder and CEO of Wireless Social.

“The much-needed footfall and trading boost on the back of the World Cup and the festive season is extremely welcome indeed. However, the industry is still fraught with challenges, not least by the threat of the rail strike action and the cost-of-doing-business crisis, and the new year ahead is going to be very tough for the sector as it continues on the path to recovery.”

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