Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Britain’s cities back in growth as spend and inflation rise

Published:  27 June, 2022

Out-of-home food and drink sales are in growth in all of Britain’s 10 biggest city centres, with higher spend-per-visit driving growth rather than footfall.

New research from CGA and Wireless Social combines UK sales data with guest wifi log-in data from the hospitality sector to provide a ‘vibrancy’ ranking of Britain’s 10 most populous cities over the four weeks to 4 June 2022.

The data found that sales were between 1% and 13% higher than in the corresponding four-week period in 2019 in each city – the first time that all 10 have been in growth since the report began at the start of 2022.

Glasgow topped the list, ahead of Bristol and Manchester, while Edinburgh moved up four places to fourth. London, where workers and tourists have been slow to return after Covid-19 restrictions eased, grew its sales for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The capital also saw its best performance for log-ins, climbing from sixth to fourth place, likely due to the impact of the Jubilee period from Thursday 2 to Saturday 4 June.

However, log-ins remain well down in all 10 cities compared to 2019. This indicates that growth is driven by higher spend-per-visit rather than footfall, CGA said – and perhaps by inflation.

“Restaurants, pubs and bars have been instrumental in the revival of Britain’s cities since the end of lockdowns, and it is pleasing to see them in growth in all 10 of the biggest centres,” CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said.

“The slow but steady recovery of sales in London is particularly encouraging, and we can expect it to continue tracking back towards its pre-Covid-19 vibrancy over the summer. However, city-centre footfall clearly remains some way short of the levels of 2019, and high inflation is making it hard for businesses to achieve growth in real terms. As cost pressures squeeze consumers’ spending, we can expect some challenging trading conditions as we move into the second half of 2022.”

Julian Ross, founder and CEO of Wireless Social, also drew attention to the impact of recent challenges, including the recent industrial action on the railways and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“The industry can’t seem to catch a break,” he said, adding that these things are “seriously impacting consumer activity and confidence. It’s vital that communities are supporting hospitality when and where they can, to protect and support the industry in what is continuing to be a hugely challenging period.”

The ‘Top Cities: Vibrancy Ranking’ report is based on a combination of sales data from more than 8,000 pubs, bars and restaurants and guest wifi for the hospitality industry,

Britain’s 10 biggest cities, ranked by vibrancy

Rankings for the four weeks to 4 June 2022. Numbers in brackets indicate position for the previous four weeks to 7 May 2022.

1 Glasgow (2)

2 Bristol (1)

3 Manchester (4)

4 Edinburgh (8)

5 Leicester (5)

6 Birmingham (3)

7 Leeds (7)

8 Liverpool (6)

9 London (10)

10 Sheffield (9)