LIFE in Dorset was much more normal this summer compared to last year with footfall even surpassing pre-pandemic levels, data suggests.

Google has used location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in different parts of their daily lives.

It compares footfall in five areas outside of the home – retail and recreation, supermarkets and pharmacies, parks, public transport and workplaces to a five-week baseline period recorded before the pandemic.

In Dorset, average activity across these categories was 45 per cent above normal levels between July and September.

This was up significantly from summer 2020, when footfall was 13 per cent above the baseline.

Most rules were relaxed last summer in England – though nightclubs remained shut, large-scale events were banned and social distancing rules were still in place.

Across the UK, activity increased from 8 per cent below normal levels last summer, to 3 per cent above this year.

Retail and recreation establishments – such as restaurants, cafes and shopping centres – saw a 17-percentage point increase, matched only by supermarkets and pharmacies.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at accounting company KPMG, said: “Following a period of extensive lockdown, there was certainly pent-up demand from consumers to get out and into stores to enjoy the physical shopping experience they had missed.”

He said the Euro 2020 tournament and a period of hot weather in July gave customers plenty of opportunities to celebrate and spend money.

Google data for July to September 2021 in Dorset shows:

  • Activity in retail and recreation establishments was 7 per cent above normal levels
  • In supermarkets and grocery stores, it was 21 per cent above usual
  • Activity was 221 per cent above pre-pandemic measurements in parks and public spaces
  • It was equal to the baseline on public transport
  • Activity in workplaces was 25 per cent below normal

Retail analytics firm Springboard said its own data showed a significant increase in footfall on UK high streets.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said the "absence of easy international travel" increased the popularity of day trips and holidays within the UK this year, providing a boost to high street footfall.

"In coastal and historic towns the improvement was even greater, demonstrating the appeal of town centres to visitors,” she added.