LIFE in Southampton was more normal this summer than last year, new data has suggested.

With coronavirus restrictions eased in England on July 19, data from Google has shown that more people have been heading into the city compared with last summer.

Using location data from phones and other personal devices, the company tracks trends in people’s movements.

It compares footfall in five areas outside of the home – retail and recreation, supermarkets and pharmacies, parks, public transport and workplaces – to a five-week baseline period recorded before the Covid-19 crisis.

This has now shown that Southampton’s average activity across these categories was 10% below normal levels between July and September this year.

But this was an improvement on the summer of 2022 which saw footfall at 22% below the baseline.

Councillor Jeremy Moulton, Deputy leader of Southampton City Council and cabinet member for growth told the Echo: “Southampton is showing strong signs of recovery but there’s still some way to go yet until we’re back to the pre-pandemic world.

“The city council is doing everything possible to support business and have our economy bounce back fully.

“We’re continuing to work with the bus companies to provide discount of £1 evening bus fairs after 6pm and we have our free parking on Sunday’s in council car parks and throughout the city centre in the evenings.”

Cllr Moulton added that there is currently a consultation taking place on having 10 minutes free parking in a range of city centre locations which is aimed at supporting small businesses.

The data showed that between July and September this year, activity in retail and recreation across the city was 18% below normal, in supermarkets and grocery stores it was 2% above usual, whilst activity was 27% above pre-pandemic measurements in parks and public spaces.

Public transport activity was 24% below the baseline and activity in workplaces was 37% belowbut across the UK, activity increased from 8% below last summer, to 3% above this year.

Leader of the council, Daniel Fitzhenry, added: “It’s great to see our city getting back on its feet, opening back up and footfall increasing from last years pandemic.”

Looking forward to next summer, he said: “We want to be getting our city further back on its feet, hosting more great events next summer across the city, hopefully having won City of Culture 2025 and really taking our city forward.”

Cllr Fitzhenry added that the council is working to “protect and create jobs” by scrapping parking charges and investing over £6m into heritage vaults and walls.