HIGH Streets in Basildon and Southend are returning to pre-Covid activity levels much more rapidly than in large cities as commuters continue to work from home and shop nearby.

New statistics, which show the average amount of visitors to town and city centres for the last full week of August, surprisingly show ten per cent MORE people visiting Basildon town centre than before the pandemic hit, with overall spending down by just six per cent.

In Southend the picture is even better, with visitor numbers up 16 per cent on pre-Covid levels, and spending slightly higher than when the pandemic hit. This puts Southend at second place for spending in the whole UK, second only to Bournemouth.

It seems that the lure of the seaside has become particularly attractive to visitors with the option of flying abroad becoming uncertain.

The figures are provided by the Centre for Cities, and are based on mobile phone movement data.

Suzanne Gloyne, Southend Business Improvement manager, said: “We continue to see really positive results from Southend and it indicates that people are keen to shop and spend locally to support their local businesses.

“Southend businesses have done a fantastic job in implementing all the measures to keep everyone safe and we must all continue to follow safety measures when out visiting venues if we want to avoid a rise in cases.

“Southend BID continue to work alongside stakeholders from around the town to ensure residents and visitors are able to safely enjoy our town.”

David Barnes, chair of Basildon Business Group, said: “I have to tip my hat to the local authority for doing their bit to encourage people to feel safe and to shop local and engage with the local proprietors.

“A big thank you to all the shoppers that are thinking about shopping local and shopping small and using their local retailers, as if they don’t use these people they will go out of business.”