The Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games are a multi-sport event held every four years and involve the member states of the Commonwealth of Nations and its overseas territories. The Commonwealth Games now involve between 4,500 and 5,000 athletes, making them the second largest sporting event in the world after the Summer Olympics. This year, the Games will be held in Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August, bringing an exponential increase in crowds to the British city.
PFM stands for People Flow Management and we specialise in delivering actionable data insights that translate into business performance improvements.
As footfall data experts, we will provide insights into the impact of the Games on Birmingham and the surrounding area.
If you would like to access our data and find out how your business is making the most of this great opportunity, you can do so via the PFM index data link which will be made available on this page in the coming week.
Birmingham Footfall - In the run-up to the games
We see a variable picture for footfall in Birmingham in the period before the start of the Commonwealth Games. There are wild variations caused by the rail strikes in week 25 and the bounce back the following week 26.
It seems the games has had limited impact to date on footfall given the situation with the economy and cost of living increases, and this may be balancing out the impact of athletes and games personnel arriving and preparing for the events.
With the games now in full flow we hope it show a more positive picture over the next few weeks.
Birmingham Footfall - The beginning of the preliminaries
As we collect more data for the Birmingham area during the Commonwealth Games an interesting picture is emerging as shown in the graph.
We are seeing a negative impact on footfall visits to central retail areas. So how do we explain this: The events are spread out over a large area and are potentially pulling footfall away from central retail areas. Last week’s rail strikes have also had a negative impact on normal footfall numbers visiting Birmingham by train. The events at the start of the Games such as the Marathon required road closures and would have deterred shoppers from entering the city by car, combined with rail disruption this has evidently deterred shoppers.
It remains to be seen if we see a more positive footfall picture when the events conclude and athletes and visitors to the Games have some free time to fill....hopefully shopping!
Birmingham Footfall - In the midst of the games
Week commencing the 1st August was up week-on-week by 42% from the previous week for visits Birmingham larger retail areas. This has showed that the increased footfall to the city has found its way into the larger covered shopping centres in the centre of Birmingham towards the end of the games.
Regional centres around games activities outside of the Central Birmingham area have also seen an increase to above COVID-19 levels during the specific times of the local events.
The games have been a massive success around the globe, putting Birmingham back onto the global stage. It has also shown the benefit to a hosting region by driving increased footfall to our retailers to well above pre COVID-19 levels.
The implementation of the games has been designed to be as cost effective as possible and this new model has delivered huge benefits to the West Midlands retail industry.
PFM will continue to monitor the Birmingham area during to de-commissioning of the games. It this the sort of event to break down our social distancing habits and get back to normal and back to retail?
Birmingham Footfall - The final outcome
As business gets back to what would usually be called normal, in Birmingham following the Commonwealth Games, we thought it would be good to take a look back at the impact on retail footfall numbers for the entirety of the event. With footfall numbers and trends being so heavily impacted by Covid over the last two years and more recently extreme hot weather and rail strikes having a negative impact on footfall, it is more difficult than normally the case to assess the Games impact. Week 25 shows a dramatic dip in retail footfall as a result of both the extreme weather and rail strikes in the same week. The footfall for the following three weeks returns to normal and then Birmingham is hit again by rail strikes in week 29.
The Birmingham Commonwealth Games was the best attended Games ever with 1.3m tickets sold prior to the start. During the Games week 30 and 31 we track a major increase in retail activity driven by the success of the ticket sales for the Games. In week 31 footfall increased by just under 1m from the previous strike impacted week. It is perhaps too early to tell if the Games has had any lasting positive impact on retail activity but indications are that footfall will return to pre-games levels and trend around 10% down on pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
Given the current squeeze on household spending, it will be interesting to see how this now impacts retail footfall numbers in Birmingham.
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