21 April 2022
Merton Council is monitoring high street health after Covid restriction lifting
As part of the South London Partnership’s InnOvaTe Project, Vivacity sensors are gathering footfall and traffic data in Wimbledon High Street to understand high street health. This data will be used to identify if there has been a ‘bounce back’ of movement since September 2021, following the lifting of Covid-19 related restrictions. Alongside impact of Covid-19 related conditions, data has revealed the extent to which severe weather affected high street activity.
The role of the high street in 2022
The future of the high street was already ominous before the arrival of Covid-19, prompting the launch of the Government’s Future High Streets Fund in 2018. Online shopping, offering more choice and competitive prices, was its primary threat, forcing high streets to rethink their role in the 21st century. To survive, they need to offer a more holistic experience for their communities. With the majority of retail and service functions of the high street now provided online, the social, experiential and ‘sense of place’ aspect of the high street has become its key strength and appeal.
The impact of Covid-19 on high street health
Covid-19 severely compromised high street health, with lockdowns, enforced shop closures and work from home guidance all posing barriers. When the Government announced Plan B measures in December 2021 in response to the Omicron variant, people were encouraged to work from home once more and mask wearing became compulsory in most public spaces. Many people decided to cancel Christmas parties and limit their social interactions. The result was that the once prosperous, high performing, commercial high street areas – those with higher densities of restaurants, bars and retail – saw the greatest decline in footfall.
Evidenced in Data: Wimbledon High Street Footfall Monitoring
Following the lifting of restrictions in January this year, Vivacity Labs worked closely with Merton London Borough Council to evidence the impact that restrictions had on footfall, and to identify if there has been a ‘bounce back’ in the months following.
The data set and insights can be found in the full case study on the Vivacity website.
About the InnOvaTe Project:
South London Partnership is working with London Councils to deliver an exciting and innovative “Internet of Things” (IoT) project across the five south London Councils of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton.
This initiative is funded by the Strategic Investment Pot (SIP) as part of the London Councils Business Rates Retention scheme which is administered by the City of London Corporation, and hopes to improve people’s lives through the delivery of a multi-purpose Internet of Things (IoT) platform, which will connect various sensors across borough boundaries.
The project is led by Sutton Council, which was selected to oversee the project on behalf of the other boroughs.
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If you have any questions about the project, please check our Frequently Asked Questions.