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Tracking North East lockdown trends with Google mobility data

Created 1st December 2020


Eddie Smith, Economic Analyst at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how Google mobility data can paint a picture of the way COVID-19 restrictions have affected activity in the North East.

Google mobility data is a useful tool that provides regular indications of trends in activity across the North East LEP region and beyond.

Google provide mobility reports in PDF format for each UK local authority area (and for many locations around the world) together with raw daily data going back to mid-February. These statistics show how the number of visits to different types of places compared to an early 2020 baseline.

Google obtains data from users who have opted into location history for their account; recording visits to six types of location. Data is compared with and indexed against the average (median) for the same day during the first six weeks of 2020, which is set as zero.

The latest Google mobility reports for North East local authorities have data up to and including Friday 13th November and, therefore, encompass the first full week of the restrictions that came into force on Thursday 5th November.

Taking a closer look - North East LEP analysis

These latest figures provide some interesting insight into the impact of COVID-19 restrictions across the North East LEP area.

Visits to retail and recreation locations, such as restaurants, cafés, shopping centres, museums, libraries and cinemas (excluding supermarkets and pharmacies).

- Visit numbers at these locations were just over half the average for early 2020

- This is 30 percentage points less than in the final full week before the new restrictions (to 30th October). This was half-term week when visit numbers are generally higher

- The latest working week visit numbers were about 20 to 25 percentage points below levels in the weeks prior to the half-term break

- Visit numbers in the first weekend of the new restrictions (7th and 8th November) were about 60 percentage points below the early 2020 average

- Visit numbers on the three days before the restrictions began were close to the early 2020 average, particularly on the final day before their introduction

Workplace visits

- During the latest full working week, workplace visit numbers were about 38 percentage points below the average for early 2020

- This is about 7 percentage points below levels in the weeks prior to the half-term break but about 4 percentage points above levels during half-term week

- Workplace visit numbers at weekends since March have tended to be closer to the early 2020 average because the breakdown by sector of workplaces open at weekends differs from that on Mondays to Fridays and includes a lesser proportion of businesses where home working is possible

- During the first Saturday and Sunday of the new restrictions, workplace visit numbers were both 31 percentage points below the early 2020 averages

- These numbers were, respectively, about 18 and 21 percentage points lower than on the four Saturdays and four Sundays before the new restrictions

- Weekend workplace visits are likely to have been more greatly impacted by restrictions because retail and hospitality establishments make up a larger proportion of them

Visits to public transport hubs in the North East LEP area, including metro, bus and train stations

- Public transport hub visit numbers were 42 to 45 percentage points below the average for early 2020

- This is about 10 percentage points below levels in the week prior to the half-term break but only about 5 percentage points below levels during half-term week itself

- During the first Saturday and Sunday of the new restrictions, public transport hub visit numbers were less than half the early 2020 averages

- These numbers were 15 to 20 percentage points lower than in the four weekends immediately prior to the new restrictions

- Public transport hub visit numbers were about 28 percentage points below the early 2020 averages on the Monday to Wednesday leading up to the introduction of the restrictions. This was about 7 percentage points higher than the recent averages for these days.

Comparing retail and recreation visits across North East local authorities

- The relative impact of the new restrictions on different local authority areas can be identified by comparing the latest seven day averages with those in the week immediately before the half-term break (to Friday 23rd October):

- Gateshead and Northumberland have had the largest percentage point decreases in visit numbers between the two periods, by 31 and 29 percentage points, respectively

- South Tyneside has had the smallest percentage point decrease, but the latest visit numbers are still 19 percentage points lower than the pre-half-term period

- The other four local authorities have had decreases of 22 to 24 percentage points since the week ending 23rd October

Findings during the latest working week (to 13th November)

- The lockdown restrictions caused a significant decrease in visits to workplaces, retail and recreation venues and transport hubs across the North East LEP area

- Visit numbers at retail and recreation locations (excluding supermarkets and pharmacies) were just over half the average for early 2020

- Workplace visit numbers were about 38 percentage points below the average for early 2020

- Public transport hub visit numbers were 42 to 45 percentage points below the average for early 2020

- Gateshead and Northumberland have had the largest percentage point decreases in visit numbers to retail and recreate on venues, while South Tyneside had the smallest

Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports are available to download here


Created 3 months ago, [last edited 3 months ago]