Our figure of the month for Christmas 2020: Pedestrian frequencies in Osnabrück at Christmas

An eventful 2020 is gradually coming to an end and Christmas  against all odds  is just around the corner. After the lockdown in the spring of this year, the city centres are once again facing particular challenges during the Christmas season. The "partial lockdown" at the end of October, which in many places led to a general obligation to wear a mask, regulation of the number of customers in shops, the closure of restaurants and the cancellation of Christmas markets, has been followed by a "hard lockdown" since 16 December. This means another complete closure for retailers. In addition to clothing shops, providers of so-called body-related services are also affected. Exceptions are, among others, retail- and weekly food markets. Since then, there have been few occasions to stroll through the city centres.

How much the number of pedestrian frequencies changes is measured automatically in many places. Laser-assisted scanners are mounted on selected building facades in the pedestrian zones and register the movement of people in the pedestrian areas and passageways. The data provider hystreet.com currently publishes the pedestrian frequencies of 134 locations in 63 cities in Germany.  For the figure of the month, the scanner "Osnabrück  Große Straße (Mitte)" was evaluated, located in the centre of Osnabrück's most important shopping street.

The graph compares this year's registered pedestrian frequencies in Osnabrück with those of the previous year. As there is a high weekday effect in the city centres, the comparative data from 2019 has been shifted accordingly. For example, the 2nd Sunday of Advent was on 6 December in 2020 and 8 December in 2019.  In the weeks leading up to the third Advent, i. e. before the "hard lockdown", it can be seen that, as expected, the pedestrian frequencies are generally lower than in 2019, with Sundays reaching their lowest point within a week. After comparable values on weekdays, the peak occurs on Saturdays. On these important (from a shopping point of view) Advent Saturdays, the frequencies of the previous year cannot be reached in 2020. While the deviations on weekdays are still 48%, they reach over 60% on Advent Saturdays. The highest pedestrian frequency in the Advent season 2020 is achieved on the Saturday before the 3rd Advent, closely followed by "Black Friday" ,a day without direct reference to Christmas. In the week after the third Advent, the highest pedestrian frequency is reached on a Monday. At that time, it was already known that a "hard lockdown" would come into effect from the middle of the week in question. As a result, the pedestrian frequencies measured on the weekdays after 16 December are between 80% and 84% below the previous year's level. On the Saturday before the 4th of Advent, the highest decline is reached with a drop of 88 % of the measured pedestrians compared to the previous year.

Fortunately, retail sales are not directly linked to pedestrian frequencies. Many shoppers are making more targeted purchases in 2020, which should have increased the average shopping receipt (goods purchased per visit) in city centres.

Other figures can be found here.

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