Students and ‘Jamie’ film premiere drive 15 per cent jump in Sheffield city centre visitors
Sheffield city centre streets are the busiest they have been since the pandemic began, with the increase driven by students, events and the ‘Jamie’ film premiere.
There were 153,600 visitors recorded on Fargate in the week of September 20-27, the highest since March last year.
Division Street did even better, with an extra 25,000 visitors, double last year and 14 per cent up on the ‘normal’ year of 2019.
Across all the main city centre retail areas, footfall was 462,000 in the same period, a jump of 15 per cent on the previous week.
But it was still 13 per cent down on 2019 - although that compared well against the UK average which was 21 per cent down, according to figures from Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID).
The strong recovery comes as councillors must decide whether to keep two controversial road closures - on Pinstone and Division streets - by the end of the year.
Diane Jarvis is head of business operations at Sheffield BID, which imposes a levy on larger firms inside the inner ring road.
She said the return of students, the ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ premiere at the Crucible and a strong programme of events helped.
She added: “The welcome return of students is already having a positive impact but there is clearly still a long way to go for businesses, and this needs to be supported by a shift back to the office.
“Footfall isn’t converting into retail transactions in the same volumes as businesses experienced pre-Covid, but a growing number of businesses are reporting a trend in higher value transactions despite a lower number of shoppers.”
Meanwhile, a new lunchtime rush hour on the roads is emerging in Sheffield after the pandemic upended office life.
Bus operators believe the new peak is due to work-from-homers meeting up after a morning on their own.
Nigel Eggleton, managing director of First Sheffield, said buses were noticeably busier in the middle of the day.
The afternoon and evening peaks were about back to normal as children left school and people left the city centre, he added.
But overall, ticket sales were up to 30 per cent down.
New post-pandemic travel patterns have also seen morning road congestion above previous levels and for longer.