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Heavy retail footfall reinforces the need for public caution as we enter crucial Christmas period 

The public need to make use of publicly available data and tools when understanding the presence of virus in communities, says TrueCue.

New data has revealed after national lockdown restrictions were removed earlier this week, retail footfall rose over 85% week-on-week in England, as shoppers across the country returned to high streets, shopping centres and retail parks. With this weekend being the first since the end of the national lockdown – and with Christmas looming ever closer – similar footfalls are expected across the country’s high streets over the coming days.

Undoubtedly, these findings will provide real optimism for the retail sector in the run up to Christmas, but it’s important for consumers hitting the shops, restaurants and bars to remain vigilant. This can be done by making use of publicly available data, through tools such as NHS Digital’s Neighbourhood View dashboard, in order to understand the presence of the virus amongst areas of the country, as Tim Archer, Analytics Director at TrueCue, discusses:

“The four-week shutdown has cost non-essential retail dearly and therefore retailers will be doing all they can to boost sales and drive footfall in the run up to Christmas. In light of this, the public must follow government guidelines whilst making sensible, informed choices. Not just when it comes to Christmas shopping, but whether that’s going out to bars and restaurants, undertaking leisure activities, or visiting friends or family. Having visibility over infection rates within communities, is going to be vital.”

Archer continues, “Throughout the crisis, the public’s exposure to data has increased dramatically – whether it’s the reporting of daily cases, to understanding the position of the “R” number – people have become much more data literate, sometimes without realising it. Because of this, we need to serve the public with instant, readily accessible information on the presence of the virus in particular areas, especially as people move more freely. Tools like the NHS Digital’s Neighbour View dashboard do just that.”

NHS Digital’s Neighbourhood View dashboard, built in partnership with TrueCue, Goldman Sachs and Aire Logic, brings together coronavirus triage data, combined with coronavirus cases, to show the latest trends, numbers and rates of coronavirus across each  Middle Super Output Area (MSOA), in England. The MSOA map lets people see cases within incredibly small areas – as little as 7,000 people. The advantage of presenting the data in this manner, means a person can freely access and search any postcode for information about a neighbourhood and understand the presence of the virus in that area.

Archer concludes, “The country is entering another crucial period – restrictions are ending as well as the impending arrival of a vaccine are a cause for huge optimism, but it’s important people remain cautious. We are still going to be living with the virus in the immediate future, with the majority of the country placed in either tier two or three areas. The public therefore need to be sensible – leveraging publicly available tools and data, will keep the people informed and ultimately safe.”