Fewer 'browsers' means Norwich is spending less than lower income cities

There have now been more than 50,000 deaths in the UK linked to coronavirus. Picture: Denise Bradley

There have now been more than 50,000 deaths in the UK linked to coronavirus. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Norwich shoppers have not hit the high street with as much gusto as their counterparts in more deprived areas, new data has revealed. 

The Centre for Cities has published its latest figures on spending and footfall across towns and cities in the UK, with Norwich posting a spending index of 95. 

This is down from an initial boost in mid-April when Norwich posted index readings of 103 - around the same levels seen during Eat Out to Help Out last summer - before beginning to drop off. 

Other retail hubs in East Anglia have spent even less, with Ipswich posting a spending index of 86 compared to pre-pandemic levels, and Cambridge 84. 

Jonty Young, spokesman for the Norwich Lanes Association, said: "What we haven't really seen is a return of browsers. The people that are in the city centres are coming in to buy something specifically and then are leaving.

Jonty Young is the gatekeeper of the Norwich Lanes, working with landlords to ensure chain stores ar

Jonty Young, spokesman of the Norwich Lanes Association.  - Credit: Archant

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"I think the people who will come in for a browse will be waiting to see what other people do, and we'll see more, and a different level of spending when hospitality can reopen inside as well."

Conversely, the highest spenders - and as a result the highest volume of footfall - has been from towns and cities with lower average incomes. 

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Coming out on top for spend was Yorkshire's Huddersfield with an index figure of 119, followed by Mansfield and Blackburn close behind at 117. 

Valentine Quinio, analyst at Centre for Cities, said: “Many less affluent places are seeing faster recoveries from lockdown than more prosperous ones. While this may seem surprising, the likely reason for this is because, pre-pandemic, overall levels of spending in less affluent cities and towns were lower than in more prosperous ones, with a smaller share of non-essential spending. Therefore, they will recover to their pre-pandemic spending levels more quickly.

“The other reason is that larger, more affluent places tend to be more reliant on office workers who spend their money on the high street. As long as workers stay at home, these places won't recover.

“It is important to stress, however, that for less affluent cities, returning to pre-Covid levels of economic prosperity is not enough. To build back better in the long-term local policy makers should develop plans to attract more high-skilled, high paying jobs to their areas.”

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