Google Mobility Index

Comparing visit numbers to sites such as retail and recreation locations with the pre-COVID average

The Google mobility index is based on data from users who have opted into location history for their Google account. For each day it compares the number of visits to different types of places with the average for that day during the first five weeks of 2020.

To provide data for the North East LEP area, indices for County Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear have been given weightings based on their population size and then combined.  Weekly averages have also been calculated to provide comparisons of trends over a long time period, for example, between indexes for different local authorities or different location types. 

The retail and recreation mobility index provides information about visits to shopping centres, restaurants, cafés, theme parks, museums, libraries and cinemas but excludes visits to supermarkets and pharmacies. The latest data is up to Friday 7th May and continues to show the impact of the re-opening of non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality venues and outdoor attractions on 12th April: 

  • Visits to North East retail and recreation sites were at a level slightly below those in the initial weeks after re-opening
  • weekday visits were still at levels that were about 15 to 20 percentage points higher than in the week prior to re-opening
  • weekend visit levels were about 25 percentage points higher than in the weekend before the re-openings
  • the latest weekly average was slightly lower than in the previous two weeks but they were the highest since late October
  • the latest average was about 34 percentage points higher than its lowest level in the early 2021 lockdown period 
  • it was 47 percentage points higher than the lowest point in the initial lockdown of April 2020
  • latest weekly visits are still only 72 per cent of early 2020 levels and 13 percentage points below the mid-2020 peak in August.

At a local level, the weekly average retail and recreation indices in the North East highlight that:

  • Latest levels of retail and recreation visits were slightly lower than in the previous two weeks in six of the seven North East local authority areas
  • the exception was Gateshead, where levels were at their highest since early November
  • levels were at least 25 percentage points above their lowest during the early 2021 lockdown in all seven North East local authority areas
  • the latest index values were lowest in Newcastle, at about 57 per cent of early 2020 levels
  • in the other six areas, retail and recreation visits were at 70 to 79 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

The weekly average indices for different location types within the North East highlight that:

  • Visits to supermarkets and pharmacies in the latest three weeks have been at their highest levels since March 2020 
  • visits to workplaces were lower than in recent weeks due to a bank holiday
  • visits to public transport hubs in the latest three weeks have been at their highest since September
  • hours spent at home were slightly higher than in recent weeks due to the bank holiday.

Google do not publish indices for LEP areas or combined authorities but they do include information for the six English metropolitan counties that cover the largest urban areas outside of London. The weekly average retail and recreation indices for these areas show that:

  • The latest index value for Tyne and Wear is very similar to that for all five other metropolitan counties
  • retail and recreation visits were at 68 to 71 per cent of early 2020 levels in all six areas
  • in percentage terms, the post-COVID decrease in such visits was much higher in Greater London than in these six areas 
  • the recent lockdown appeared to have a slightly bigger impact on visit numbers in Tyne and Wear than in other metropolitan counties.

Retail and recreation visit daily index, most recent 10 weeks, North East LEP area

Last updated:
11/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: COVID-19 Community Report  [Google, up to and including 07 May 2021]

Data information: The number of retail and recreation visits for a specific day is expressed as an index compared to average visits for that day during the first five weeks of 2020. 

The North East LEP area index is based on a weighted combination of indices for Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear, with the weights based on population size.


Retail and recreation visit index, weekly average since Feb 2020, North East LEP area

Last updated:
11/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: COVID-19 Community Report  [Google, up to and including 07 May 2021]

Data information: The number of retail and recreation visits for a specific day is expressed as an index compared to average visits for that day during the first five weeks of 2020. The weekly average is calculated for the seven days up to and including the Friday named in the chart.

The North East LEP area index is based on a weighted combination of indices for Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear, with the weights based on population size. 


Retail and recreation visit index, weekly average since Oct 2020, North East local authority areas

Last updated:
11/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: COVID-19 Community Report  [Google, up to and including 07 May 2021]

Data information: The number of retail and recreation visits for a specific day is expressed as an index compared to average visits for that day during the first five weeks of 2020. 

The weekly average is calculated for the seven days up to and including the Friday named in the chart.


Visit indices by location type, weekly averages since Oct 2020, North East LEP area

Last updated:
11/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: COVID-19 Community Report  [Google, up to and including 07 May 2021]

Data information: The number of visits for each location type on a specific day is expressed as an index compared to average visits for that day during the first five weeks of 2020. The weekly average is calculated for the seven days up to and including the Friday named in the chart.

The North East LEP area indices are based on a weighted combination of indices for Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear for each location type, with the weights based on population size. 

The residence index is based on the number of hours at home rather than visit numbers.


Retail and recreation visit index, weekly average since Oct 2020, metropolitan counties, Gtr London

Last updated:
11/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: COVID-19 Community Report  [Google, up to and including 07 May 2021]

Data information: The number of retail and recreation visits for a specific day is expressed as an index compared to average visits for that day during the first five weeks of 2020. 

The weekly average is calculated for the seven days up to and including the Friday named in the chart.

The six metropolitan counties include the largest English built up areas outside of London and were created in 1974. Although abolished in 1986, they are still recognised, especially for statistical purposes, and Google community reports use them as an upper-tier geography alongside traditional counties such as Northumberland and Durham.

The metropolitan counties differ in boundaries from LEP areas and city regions.