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Leeds is Yorkshire’s worst city center since the lockdown – here’s the data that explains why

Damaging and worrying new data has shown how Leeds city centre is continuing to struggle post-lockdown.

A High Streets Recovery Tracker on the Centre for Cities website has ranked Leeds as Yorkshire’s worst performing city centre with the city struggling to draw in shoppers and workers despite Boris Johnson’s easing of lockdown measures.

Leeds has an overall recovery index score of 49 – the lowest in Yorkshire behind the likes of Huddersfield, Sheffield, York and many more.

The various data shows that while more people from the suburbs are travelling to Leeds, lockdown restrictions and concerns over travelling have meant less people from outside Leeds are visiting the West Yorkshire city to spend money.

Furthermore, when looking at the amount of city centre workers in Leeds city centre in the daytime on weekdays, the number has fallen dramatically.

Shoppers wear face masks in Leeds city centre 

Compared to a pre-lockdown baseline rate of 100, that rate now stands at 13 as of August 11, meaning fewer workers are working in the shops and businesses and wandering around the city centre on their lunch breaks.

Earlier this week, Leeds City Council urged residents to return to the city centre for some retail therapy after noticing a dramatic drop in footfall.

That came after findings showed that footfall is still not reaching nearly half of pre-lockdown levels, even with hundreds of businesses reopening in the centre.

These findings showed that 45 per cent of those visiting came from outside Leeds, compared to 63 per cent before lockdown, and that there was an even more drastic decrease in city centre workers from outside the city (now 38 per cent, 63 per cent before lockdown).

It all means the city is just outside the top 10 worst performing city centres recovering from lockdown in the UK and the worst performing in Yorkshire.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of the council, said: “We have all faced exceptional challenges over the past months and, like many businesses, shops and shopping centres across the city are still suffering.

“The retail offer in Leeds is really special, from our spectacular Victorian Arcades and markets to our buzzing streets full of independent shops out in our neighbourhoods. The retailers that help to make Leeds great need your support now more than ever.

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is a native of Leeds, journalist and PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow. She is mainly interested in foreign affairs, geopolitics and investigative journalism.

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