50,000 extra people visit Sheffield city centre in just one week as footfall figures soar

Footfall in Sheffield city centre soared by nearly 50,000 people in one week and was close to pre-pandemic levels, exclusive figures obtained by the Sheffield Telegraph reveal.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 9:13 am

Figures show that footfall in Sheffield City Centre was higher every day of the week commencing July 19 than the previous week, with an overall increase of roughly 44,000 people.

Footfall was also higher than at the same time last year when the country had come out of its first lockdown, with footfall on Saturday July 24 being more than double that of a year previously.

One factor in the surge of people coming into the city centre was the return of Tramlines festival. However, footfall was also over 15 per cent higher week on week from Monday July 19 to Wednesday July 21, before the festival began.

19 July 2021 which has been dubbed 'Freedom Day' - in Sheffield. Picture Scott Merrylees

Whilst footfall was lower than pre-pandemic levels, over the course of the week there were just 27,000 fewer people than at the same point in 2019, suggesting that Sheffield is on track to regain its busy high street.

Some shoppers and shopkeepers felt that this increased footfall had not been reflected in retail and that the city has further to go than the data suggests.

Mark, who lives on the outskirts of Sheffield, said: “I think it’s dead. I haven’t been into the city much, I think the town centre is on its arse.

“There’s nothing left, no shops left, nothing to come in for.

Sophie, manager of Plantology on Division street, is still seeing most sales come through online rather than in store.

"I remember coming as a lad, it used to be packed to the rafters. I go to Meadowhall now to go shopping.

Conversely, Ellie Watson felt that there has been a definite change in the town centre over the last few weeks.

She said: “It feels like it’s been livelier. I’ve been coming in more since restrictions ended.

“It’s great, I like seeing the students and people dressed up.

Figures show that footfall was higher every day between 19-25 July than the week previous. Picture Scott Merrylees

“It was horrible when it was really quiet. It was like the plague years.

Sophie, manager of Plantology, said: “Town has been a lot busier but with people out drinking and having fun rather than coming into shops.

"There were a few occasions over the weekend when we had groups of young people looking in but they were mostly just killing time before going to Tramlines.

“We are finding that we are still doing a lot more online and telephone sales.”

Sheffield Council confirmed that the figures were the highest recorded since the pandemic began.

Council leader Terry Fox said: “It’s been fantastic to see everyone having a great time in the city centre over the past few weeks – whether that’s been at Tramlines, taking part in the Bears of Sheffield or just soaking up the sunshine in our parks and filling up the streets once again.

“There’s so much on offer to enjoy and I know our pubs, restaurants, bars and shops will be especially pleased with the support people have shown in getting back to meeting up with friends and loved ones in their favourite spots.

"The increase in footfall in the city centre is a really positive sign of things to come as Sheffield recovers from the effects of the pandemic. It’s clear that the number of people visiting the city centre is testament to the hard work that has been done to welcome visitors back and make them feel safe as we adjust to the easing of restrictions, and it’s really important that as we all begin to enjoy our freedom again that we still make sure we’re doing what we can to keep each other safe and well, including wearing masks in crowded spaces and testing and isolating when needed.

“This feels like a really special summer as our city centre and local communities come alive again and we’re celebrating this through our Summer in the Outdoor City campaign – highlighting events taking place across the city, from pop up markets to music trails.

"We’d like as many people as possible to get involved and explore all of the brilliant things Sheffield has to offer as we work to put Sheffield first.”