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Bristol’s city centre economy showed signs of recovery in first half of 2022, say BIDs

Businesses in Bristol’s city centre saw post-Covid signs of recovery in the first half of 2022, according to Bristol’s three central business improvement districts (BIDs).

But spend is still below pre-pandemic levels and there are concerns about the effects of the cost of living crisis.

Research commissioned by Bristol City Centre BID, Broadmead Bristol BID, and Redcliffe & Temple BID confirmed a total ‘in premises’ Visa spend of £274 million across businesses in the BS, BS2 and BS8 areas for the first half of the year to June 30.

Shoppers and diners spent £131.1 million in Q1 and £142.7 million in Q2, representing a nine per cent rise from one quarter to the next and a significant increase of 16 per cent when comparing it to the same trading period in 2021.

The data also shows that businesses in the BS1, BS2 and BS8 postcodes benefitted from online sales of £161 million in Q1 and £146 million in Q2.

And the city’s nighttime economy bounced back with a total spend of £39.5 million across the six months.

The night-time economy experienced a very positive start to the year with £19 million spend in Q1, with a key driver for this increase being the return of the BIDs-led Bristol Light Festival, which brought an additional £3.4 million revenue to city centre businesses and 170,000 visitors to the event across its duration.

In Q2, restaurants, bars and clubs experienced an eight per cent increase in spend as a whole, with £20.5 million spend reported specifically in the city centre between 6pm and 6am.

“The data shows that in Q1, we were heading in the right direction for a more prosperous year for our city’s businesses, particularly retail and hospitality that were hit hard by the pandemic,” said Vicky Lee, head of Bristol City Centre BID.

“As we headed into Q2, the cost of living and inflation has had an impact on businesses and how they operate, but thankfully the data so far shows that these concerns have not affected consumer spend in the city centre.

“Whilst it is likely that consumer’s disposable income may have reduced, the importance of smaller ‘pick me up’ purchases and experiences such as shopping, meals out with friends and family and a night out in the city, are still being high on people’s agenda.

“We will be using this data to understand and monitor the spend trends in the city centre, to ensure we can continue to support businesses in the second half of the year.

“We need to ensure both day and night-time economies are supported, encouraging workers back to their offices will be a key driver for increased midweek, daytime spend, along with autumn and winter events to attract visitors into the city.”

And Steve Bluff, head of Redcliffe & Temple BID said: “In Q1, the city centre economy started to show signs of recovery, with more people wanting to visit and spend leisure time in the city, we started on a post-pandemic upward trajectory.

“Whilst we are seeing reassuring signs of recovery and quarterly increased spend in the city, these is still more work to be done.

“We know that when comparing Q2 of this year to Q2 2019, there is a difference and shortfall of over £50 million in spend.

“If the city is to fully rebound and return to the levels seen before the pandemic then businesses need continued support through local, international, and online spend.”

Pictured: The BIDs-led Bristol Light Festival brought an additional £3.4 million revenue to city centre businesses and 170,000 visitors to the event across its duration

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