Plymouth – City Recovery Piece

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Following on from our first look into how OPEN’s cities are recovering with Sheffield last month, this month we are focusing on the city of the location of our Drake Circus screen, Plymouth. Famous for its extensive amount of ports and more importantly, the famous Plymouth Gin, we take a look at how the city has recovered and continues to recover from the pandemic with data from Plymouth BID Company and Centre For Cities.


Data from Plymouth Bid company has shown a steady footfall during the first lifting of restrictions in March. As we can see below, from March to April, footfall rose dramatically by an impressive 65%! There was then a smaller drop from April to May which could be explained by the poor weather we experienced which encouraged the public to stay indoors. However, over the next month to June we again saw an increase of 46% before falling again.

When exploring recovery data it is important to include a comparison of a ‘normal’ year, in this case it is the same footfall data from 2019. It is interesting to see that although footfall figures are still below that of 2019, the trends from May to June are following the same pattern which could suggest that although the footfall number is still down on what it normally would be, that it is definitely heading in the right and an encouraging direction. 

Moving onto the Centre For Cities data, there are three main points of research which have been collected and indexed; Overall Recovery Index, Spend Index and Weekend Index. 

Overall recovery looks at who was in the city centre at any time of the day and is compared to a pre-lockdown baseline of 100. Plymouths overall recovery started on an upward trajectory around April and since has been going from strength to strength. We can see a large spike towards the end of May and early June which could be explained by the bank holiday paired with easing of restrictions. Since then, overall index has stayed high and continues to make a steady recovery. 


The spend index looks at relevant offline sales made in the city centre at any time of the day and again is compared to a pre-lockdown baseline of 100. Since April spending in Plymouth has made an impressive recovery, peaking in late May to early June at 121. Although this has dropped a little since then, we still see spend over indexing well into August. Fantastic news for Plymouth’s recovery! 

Weekend index looks at people who were in the city centre in the daytime at weekends, compared to a pre-lockdown baseline of 100.

Weekend index started to make a sharper recovery towards the end of April and peaking late May with an over-index of +4. Since then, recovery has remained strong with the majority of weekends hitting the baseline or being just below. It is important to note that Saturdays are indexing higher than Sundays which may suggest day trippers to the city or locals, again supporting the reports suggested around UK locality. 

Not only have we looked at the frequency of weekend visitors, but also where they are coming from too. Comparing the two charts, we can see no change in visitors from the city suburbs from before lockdown and now however the bigger changes are to be found within less people visiting from the city centre and more from outside of the city. This again could suggest the idea of day trippers returning to Plymouth.

Considering all of the data, it is safe to say that so far the post-pandemic recovery in Plymouth is showing extremely positive signs, particularly in spend. This is great news for OOH as it demonstrates that after many months of lockdown and uncertainty, people are getting out of their homes, spending their money and seeing them all important campaigns.

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