Editor: As lockdown restrictions have lifted, traffic has migrated back to motorways with even more visitors than before.
Our parking and visitor insight identified that in the first week in July, motorway service station visits increased by 4.46%, surpassing pre-lockdown figures from the same period four months ago, although dwell time fell 14% to 30 minutes, with most visits happening at lunchtime.
Analysing the figures, it is interesting to see how people are emerging from their homes as restrictions have been eased. As the second wave of restrictions were lifted, visitor numbers increased by 55% in the South West of the UK, suggesting pent-up frustration from lockdown led to an increase in footfall to rural locations and heralding the rise of the staycation.
Service stations were 31% busier in Scotland and 35% busier in Wales, suggesting people were migrating over to England, where restrictions had already been eased.
Data on retail car parks identified owners of luxury cars and electric vehicles were 50% more likely to venture out when non-essential retail reopened than when restaurants reopened, validating reports of revenge spending among higher-income demographics.
Total visitor numbers in the week after bars and restaurants reopened on Super Saturday (4 July) were higher, but dominated by budget, mid-range and family cars, motivated by the ability to dine out or grab a bite to eat.
While people are returning to a post-pandemic world, we have learned that there is apprehension and the public are proceeding with caution.
Businesses should take the provisions necessary to instil confidence and keep their visitors safe. It is vital that they understand how this pandemic has impacted customer behaviour in the short, medium and long term.
Elli Morris is director at GroupNexus