Smaller North West towns and cities are leading the recovery from lockdown, according to new figures which show a sharp rise in spending following the re-opening of pubs, cafes and non-essential shops last month.
The figures – analysed by the insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 – show that
spending increased in all locations following the easing of restrictions on 12 April and has remained above pre-pandemic levels everywhere except Manchester and Liverpool.
Four North West centres were amongst the top ten nationally in terms of spending recovery: In Blackburn and Birkenhead, spending was at 117% of pre-pandemic levels in the week ending 24 April, while in Warrington it was at 114% and in Preston, 112% of previous levels.
Spending was also higher than pre-pandemic levels in the three other smaller centres – Burnley (110%), Blackpool (107%) and Wigan (104%). In line with patterns in recent months, Liverpool (95%) and Manchester (73%) lagged behind, although spending was at the highest level since the pre-Christmas period.
The figures from the Centre for Cities analyse the UK’s largest regional centres.
Allan Cadman, North West chair of R3 and a partner at Poppleton & Appleby, said: “These figures are welcome news and could indicate that, with further easing of restrictions starting from this week, we could be in for a ‘vaccine bounce’.
“However we are not out of the woods yet. Uncertainty remains as to when the economy can fully re-open, some consumers remain cautious and many businesses are still not operating at full capacity. Those that have survived could run into cashflow problems due to the cost of re-opening, restocking and meeting increased demand, as well as facing the burden of having to repay loans and deferred tax. We are also yet to see the full impact of the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid that has surged in Bolton.
“In the months ahead, it will be critical for businesses to monitor expenses and manage cashflow carefully. Anyone who is worried about their business finances should seek professional advice as early as possible.”