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Central London locations seeing increased consumer interest, CACI reports

Tom Shearsmith
17 September 2020

According to the latest research from CACI, the consumer and location intelligence specialist, there is a large level of the disparity in retail behaviour between central London and the rest of the capital as the UK gets to grips with the ‘rule of six’.

Since the lockdown was lifted on June 15, CACI in partnership with Location Sciences, has been tracking how consumers in the UK are moving, with data from the week ending 6 September 2020 showing contrasts in the capital.

In the key worker hubs of Holborn and The City, movement levels are just 24% and 20% respectively compared to pre-COVID levels.

While parts of the West End now exceed more than 50% of pre-COVID movements, with the cause of the issue appearing to be unwillingness to use public transport. Four of London’s busiest stations, King’s Cross, Euston, Victoria and Waterloo, are at an average 25% of movements versus pre-COVID.

By contrast, local retail destinations throughout London are thriving, with consumer movements in many locations back to 100% of pre-COVID levels. Thanks to their success, movements in London overall are now within seven per cent points of the national average, which stands at 78% compared to pre-COVID levels for the third consecutive week.

Oxford Street, 2020. Image: ©

The focus on local destinations in the capital is reflected in patterns nationally as well, with movements in a local areas now the same as movements out of communities. This indicates a re-balancing of consumer activity as the holiday season ends and consumers return to making shorter, more local journeys.

Alex McCulloch, Director of CACI, said: “Much is being said by a number of leading figures and industry bodies about the plight of central London, which is indicative of the situation in most cities in the UK. These latest numbers, however, which record consumer movements in the weeks schools returned and Eat Out to Help Out finished, show the stark reality.

While the capital’s local neighbourhoods are clearly thriving in the new term-time reality, central London is a shadow of its former self. The cause is clear too; for as long as workers remain at home, the capital, and the rest of the UK’s cities, will struggle to reclaim former footfall. In this new consumer reality, the future lives in these cities doing what they do best – evolving and adapting to reflect a less frequent, but potentially more engaged worker.”

The news follows previous analysis by CACI of the value of workers to retailers, restaurants, cafés and bars. London accounts for 18% of all retail and F&B spend in the UK, 33% of worker spend in the country is from people working in London locations, equating to over £3 billion annually.

The London locations in the top 50 are also more heavily reliant on worker spend than their counterparts across the country. The average worker spend per location outside London is £64 million, or 24% of total spend. In the capital, the figures rise to £73 million and 41% respectively.

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