We’re going down the pub: Oxford data shows massive leap in Saturday movement as UK hits the town in July

14 July 2020

Movement in the Capital has leapt by some 70% and by more than 61% around the UK - over the last two Saturdays, compared to the last Saturday in June, according to data from Oxford’s COVID-19 Impact Monitor.

Dr Matthias Qian says, ‘Recent measures to further ease the national lockdown, including the re-opening of pubs and additional retail stores, have increased destination choices for consumers. And with the growing number of the choices, people did go to more and farther places, as our impact monitor reveals.’

The Oxford Monitor shows that, as of 11 July, with the pubs and restaurants allowed to reopen, movement in London increased to 46% of pre-lockdown levels - compared to June, when movement was recorded at around 27% of pre-lockdown levels.

Scenes of crowded streets and pubs were beamed around the world and 4 July was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ as the country as a whole went on the town, with movement across the UK increasing that weekend by just over a quarter – the biggest weekly increase since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the South West and the North East, over the last fortnight, there have been boosts of more than 70% to Saturday movement figures compared to June. Movement in the two regions is now recorded respectively at 62% and 60% of pre-lockdown rates, compared to 36% and 34% in June.

Wales, though, has seen the biggest increase over the fortnight, with movement more than 100% up, pre-lockdown levels on 27 June were 24%. But by last Saturday, this had increased to 51% of pre-lockdown movement. Meanwhile, in Scotland, movement over the two Saturdays has increased by 88%.

But, last Friday, 10 July, has been the busiest day of the lockdown so far, with the UK as a whole recording 68% of pre-lockdown movement and the South West and North East recording movement levels in excess of 70%. And London was back to 51% of pre-lockdown movement on that day.

Dr Adam Saunders comments, ‘Comparatively lower levels of movement in London are likely to be the result of reservations that people continue to have over the use of public transport, which is obviously a key mode of travel across the city. 

‘Nevertheless, increasing levels of movement overall across the UK highlight the importance of preventative public health measures such as the wearing of masks as people begin to return to their pre-lockdown daily routines, which include increased travel and inevitably interactions with others.’

Only in Leicester, where lockdown rules have been tightened did the movement figures reduce. In the city centre, movement decreased by more than 40% over the two weekends, with just 16% of pre-lockdown levels recorded on 11 July. 

Dr Matthias Qian concludes, ‘A clear and increasing gap is opening up between Leicester and the rest of the country, suggesting the local lockdown is working. The good compliance with government guidelines makes me hopeful that we may limit the negative consequences of the second wave.’

Notes for Editors

  1. The Impact Monitor, seen here, was developed by a team from across the University of Oxford led by Dr Adam Saunders (SKOPE, Department of Education) and Dr Matthias Qian (Department of Economics).
  2. Team members include Daniel Pesch (Saïd Business School), Dr Steven Reece (Department of Engineering Science), Dr Won Do Lee (Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment), Professor Renaud Lambiotte (Mathematical Institute) and Lucas Kruitwagen (School of Geography and the Environment).
  3. Project partners include:
    Oracle - supporting the online tool with cloud-based high performance computing
    Cuebiq - providing anonymised and aggregated data from opted-in users via its Data for Good programm
    CKDelta - providing a wide array of anonymised and aggregated data
    Facebook’s Data for Good programme – which provided the UK population density map base layer, built with satellite imagery and census data, for validation purposes