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Pre-pandemic ‘vibrancy’ in London's hospitality sector returning as sales and footfall rise in Britain's city centres

Glasgow, meanwhile, remains the most vibrant city.

London’s pubs, bars and restaurants are gradually returning towards pre-COVID-19 levels of visits, according to new research from CGA and Wireless Social.

The companies’ latest Top Cities Vibrancy Report, which combines CGA’s sales data with device log-in data from Wireless Social and aims to provide a ‘vibrancy’ ranking of Britain’s 10 most populous cities over the four weeks to 9 April 2022, sees London having moved up to eighth place after finishing last in the list for three periods in a row.

Whilst trading remains below the levels of March and April 2019, the return of more office workers and tourists to the capital leads to confidence that sales and check-ins will rise further as 2022 goes on, the companies suggested.
 
Glasgow tops the rankings for the second straight time, where sales were up by 8% on 2019, and check-ins only 10% below. Following are Birmingham and Manchester, which also saw sales growth. Replacing London at the bottom of the chart is Sheffield, where sales have been flat and check-ins are still a third off 2019’s levels.

Across Britain’s top 10 cities, CGA’s data also shows that average sales in the four weeks to 9 April were 3% ahead of the same period in 2019, whilst Wireless Social’s figures indicate that device check-ins remain 32% down.
 
CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “Closures and the shortage of office workers, visitors and shoppers have taken a heavy toll on hospitality in London, so it’s good to see signs that much of the pre-pandemic vibrancy is returning. Regional cities are also building back well, raising hopes for a strong summer. However, cost-of-living pressures on consumers cast a shadow over prospects, and with operators’ energy, food, labour and other costs rising sharply too, we can expect more bumps on city centres’ road to recovery.”
 
Julian Ross, founder and CEO of Wireless Social, added: “During the summer months we should see an uplift with a number of occasions set to drive excitement amongst consumers including the Jubilee, women’s EUROs and the Commonwealth Games. However, huge uncertainty remains present, as city centre-based firms continue to adopt flexible working practices that, for the most part, will continue to be damaging for hospitality. This, coupled with the cost-of-living crisis that is impacting consumer confidence, will take its toll on further recovery in city-centre hubs like London.”

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