NEW with @ChrisGiles_ & @DanielThomasLDN: UK’s big cities are shadows of their usual selves, but smaller urban areas have rebounded ft.com/content/203cc8…

What’s driving the divergence? Chart thread:

1/ Footfall in central London is still down 69%, but has picked up elsewhere
2/ This is driven by working patterns, but that in itself plays out in two distinct ways:

First, job type. Staff are returning to the workplace at very different rates in different sectors, and the sectors with the most remote working today are clustered in cities, esp. London
3/ Workers in retail, hospitality can’t do their jobs remotely and have returned to the workplace. They’re popping out for lunch or drinks near work and maybe shopping centrally before going home.

In big cities, office-workers are still at home, leaving the high streets empty.
4/ But a bigger factor than what jobs people do is how they get to work, and how far they travel.

The bulk of the divergence is driven by commuting.

There’s a clear relationship between a city/town’s footfall and the % of its workers who usually commute on trains, buses or Tube
5/ People who usually walk or drive have been much more comfortable resuming their commute than those who take public transport.

Car trips are almost back to normal, but train and Tube travel are below 40% of their baseline, and buses below 60%.
6/ That’s 100,000s of people who would usually be piling onto trains to spend time & money in city centres but are now staying home, spending locally instead.

This is a boon for suburban retailers etc, but potentially fatal for their cousins in the business district.
7/ Let’s look at the top-line numbers again:

Almost every city or town saw an uptick in high street footfall over summer as people returned to work, but London’s was barely perceptible.

I’m not sure people fully realise how commuter-reliant central London’s high streets are...
8/ ...but thanks to @undertheraedar, we know:

Here’s where the "daytime population" (workers, schoolkids etc) come in from, for four major UK cities.

Suffice it to say, one of these is not like the others...

(all images from @undertheraedar)
9/ Even if we zoom right into the very core of London — Cities of London & Westminster — a huge portion of its daily workforce usually travels in by train, Tube and or bus.

~80% of the people who usually spend money in its shops & hospitality are just ... not there anymore.
10/ The big question: is this a temporary blip that will spring back to normality post-Covid (whenever that may be), or are people (and employers) settling into a new normal?

Read @ChrisGiles_ & @DanielThomasLDN’s full story for more discussion on that ft.com/content/203cc8…
Woops, this one was meant to come with an @undertheraedar image as well:
11/10 a belated but huge thanks here to @CentreforCities and @lramuni for sharing the city/town footfall data with us.

You can explore their full dataset here, including additional data on high street spending centreforcities.org/data/high-stre…

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More from @jburnmurdoch

28 Sep
I’ve noticed a lot of people slipping up on how they interpret UK Covid-19 prevalence & testing data, so here’s a very brief thread on how to interpret figures from different sources, and what caveats each source does and does not come with:
• Pillar 2 community testing: these are the bulk of cases picked up at the moment. Case and positivity rates here *could* be influenced by where and who is being tested, so e.g patterns in this data with age, deprivation etc could be skewed by who is getting tested
@ONS infection survey: these tests are random, and designed to be representative of the overall population.

Therefore trends and patterns in this data *are not* due to e.g certain locations or groups of people being more likely to get tested.
Read 5 tweets
9 Sep
The most effective way to keep Covid in check and return to semblance of normality (far more so than blanket restrictions) is to have as many people as possible being tested, regularly & regardless of symptoms.

For government to be discouraging people from getting tested is wild
If there’s still a shortage of testing (or in this case test-processing) capacity, that’s a problem to be solved on the supply side, not the demand side.

Blanket restrictions (which do the most economic damage), are what countries do when their testing apparatus is inadequate.
The “overreaction to a 'casedemic' is killing our economy/cities” crowd are tilting at a false dichotomy where our only options are:

"Keep restrictions in place to limit transmission, hurting econ & cities" or "It’s overblown, let’s get back to normal and save econ/cities"
Read 5 tweets
4 Sep
When @christinezhang joined the FT as our US elections data reporter, this is exactly the kind of piece I was excited to see:

Read her brilliant explainer on how US polling methods have changed since 2016 and why this makes 2016 vs 2020 comparisons tricky ft.com/content/b32976…
2 big differences between 2016 and today:

1) As the link between US education levels and partisanship has grown, it's become vital for pollsters to weight by education.

Most didn't do this in 2016, but are doing now, so the same Biden lead today would have looked larger in 2016
Here's a more detailed example: there was little to no partisan slant of education before 2016, but in 2012 the gap opened up, so new edu-weighted methods (pink) now give consistently smaller Dem leads than old methods (green)
Read 4 tweets
5 Aug
"OK so you have a UK economic recovery tracker, but what about all the other countries?", I hear you ask.

Well, allow me to introduce our Global Economic Recovery Tracker 🎉

Bookmark away: ft.com/content/272354…

Here’s a thread on the main insights at this stage:
First, jobs:

As lockdowns in many regions ease, we’re starting to see job vacancies climb out of their deep April-May troughs, but hiring is still way down pretty much everywhere.

Openings in the UK & Spain still >50% down year-on-year, according to the data from @indeed.
Next, activity in workplaces:

Right across the world, we’re seeing the return to offices stop short. No location has as many people in their usual place of work now as it normally would.

This hints at a permanent shift: will that last 10-20% ever go back to the daily commute?
Read 10 tweets
5 Aug
NEW: we’ve just updated our live dashboard tracking UK’s economic recovery.

We’re using fast data (lagged by as little as one day) on transactions, footfall & job ads to show which sectors are bouncing back sharply and which are stuttering.

Full piece: ft.com/uk-econ-tracker
So far, overall picture is of a modest recovery, no signs of anything V-shaped.

Total consumer spending was down year-on-year by almost 40% as the lockdown bit. It’s recovered some of that loss, but has been stuck at around -20% y-o-y for months with no sign of a renewed rebound
Similar picture in retail footfall, where reopening of non-essential shops on June 15 sparked a sharp uptick, but since then progress has been slow.

Visits to shops still -35% y-o-y, below peer countries like Sweden & Italy, though US is lower still as virus continues to spread.
Read 10 tweets
3 Aug
NEW: I’ve updated the chart of new cases in England & Wales to show two critical parts of the story:
• Differentiating between places with an isolated cluster (Swindon’s Iceland depot) vs community spread
• Showing where Leicester was when it locked down ft.com/content/a2dbf1…
By incorporating that crucial detail of isolated cluster vs community spread, the data and chart better reflect PHE’s own "watchlist" of local areas (see here assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/upl…)

They also show why Liverpool and Swindon were exempt from the blanket lockdowns.
And by adding Leicester at lockdown for context, we can show what @robertcuffe explained so concisely last week:

With the new restrictions in the NW, govt is acting *earlier* than they did in Leicester, but is also acting more *lightly* than it did there
Read 4 tweets

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