The true impact of coronavirus on Nuneaton town centre has been revealed – with more than a million less people making a visit.

Statistics show that recorded town centre visits for the five months to mid-August 2020 were 1.1million, compared to 2.4million for the same period in 2019.

Visits in the second week of August following further easing of restrictions and new incentives were up to 24,336 – still only 79 per cent when compared to 30,749 in the same period 2019.

In a case study for the Local Government Association, entitled ‘Tracking Nuneaton’s footfall through the COVID-19 pandemic’, it shows the town centre was hit especially hard during lockdown and the months after.

The case study is based on footfall figures obtained by GEO-Sense monitors, which are based at six entrance points to the town centre and along key streets. 

It has been compiled by Jonathan White, head of town centres at Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, and pinpoints where people visit more and at a what times.

What else does the report reveal?

  • The average fall in footfall for the five months from mid-March was fairly even across Nuneaton town centre at 30-46 per cent of previously monitored levels. 
  • Footfall was most reduced in the central, pedestrianised area.
  • The GEO-sense data demonstrates that this central area is the part of town that typically attracts the greatest number of first-time visitors who are likely to be from outside the local area and less likely to have visited during lockdown.
  • The monitoring data in mid-August showed that the proportion of these first-time visitors is increasing in this area and more widely, accounting for 35.4 per cent of town centre users across Nuneaton as a whole, compared to 23.4 per cent in 2019.
  • The busiest time of day in the five  months post-lockdown has shifted to 11am-12pm from 12-1pm in 2019.

It also notes the huge part that Nuneaton’s traditional Wednesday and Saturday markets play in the success of the town centre offer. 

The report states that while the Market Place was the most popular first destination for town centre visitors in August 2019, it was reduced to the second most popular for the same period in 2020.

As we reported in our newsletter, initially markets only ran with stall holders who sell essential items but this was changed in mid June.

This would have had a notable impact on the numbers visiting the town.

In contrast, the Market Place was the most popular first destination during lockdown in May 2019, as its food stalls remained trading.

How the council is using the data

The footfall and foot-flow data was used by the council when it made changes to the town centre as lockdown eased.

This included a marked two-way pedestrian movement system throughout the heart of the town centre, pavement stickers to help social distancing and town centre ambassadors to provide support and guidance.

Data collected by the monitors will also be used to help shape Nuneaton town centre in the future.

The report says it will have a role to play in the ongoing Transforming Nuneaton project.

Transforming Nuneaton programme

Statistics will also be used in the ongoing MyTown project, which is currently in the process of putting together a £25m bid for government funding.

People can log on to the new ‘My Town Nuneaton’ website here, vist the MyTownNuneaton page on Facebook or on Twitter at @mytown_nuneaton

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