“Above expectations, but still a long way to go” – Sacha Lord praises Greater Manchester’s post-pandemic recovery

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Sacha Lord, the NTIA’s Chairman and Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, has praised the city-region’s strength and resilience as figures show footfall is outpacing London in its recovery.

The latest data (to 4 June 2022) released by CGI and Wireless Social, which combines sales and device log-in data to assess the footfall performance of Britain’s 10 most populous cities, revealed Manchester ranked third in its hospitality recovery behind Glasgow and Bristol. In contrast, Birmingham fell three places to six, while London continued to falter in its recovery, ranking ninth.

Lord’s praise comes after a strong start to the month for Manchester’s hospitality sector, which saw the week-long Sounds of the City events at the Castlefield Bowl welcome over 55,000 visitors, while England’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 opener at Old Trafford on Wednesday 6 July, achieved a record attendance of 68,781. and as temperatures look set to top 27 degrees in Greater Manchester this week, Lord anticipates even stronger trading ahead.

He said, “This data shows that we’re moving in the right direction, despite the economic difficulties currently being faced by the leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors.

“Not only are we seeing a tourism boost as a result of the unique and cultural events Manchester has to offer, but we’re also seeing good recovery in the day time trade for hospitality, buoyed by lunchtime and after work sales, as offices continue to attract employees back. There’s no doubt we’ve seen a shift in working patterns, and flexibility is something we continue to support, but I believe there’s a real opportunity now for the sector to adapt and offer points of differences, not just on Saturday and Sunday but throughout the week. The heatwave across the weeks ahead will also provide a boost and bring much-needed confidence back to the sector.”

“But while footfall in the city centre and across our urban boroughs is above expectations, there is still a long way to go. We need to ensure that amid the Westminster drama and politics, small and medium businesses remain supported, and that the Levelling Up strategy is brought back onto the agenda – it’s a topic that has fallen off a cliff, and in order to continue our recovery, we need to ensure the North remains in focus and as a key area for investment.”

Pre Covid, the night time economy contributed £66 billion per year to the UK economy, making it the UK’s fifth largest industry, accounting for 1.3 million jobs and 8 percent of the UK’s total workforce. In Greater Manchester, the sector employed around 33 per cent of the region’s workforce in 2019. By 2021, nine in ten hospitality businesses in the region had been forced to temporarily close as a result of COVID regulations, higher than any other UK region.

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