THE number of people shopping across the North-East has dropped more than 80 per cent while workplace activity has dropped by 50 per cent, data has revealed.

Retail and recreation saw the largest drop in mobility across the board, according to data released by Google, collected via its location services, which highlights the region’s response to social distancing.

North Yorkshire and Redcar and Cleveland saw the largest difference with a 88 per cent decrease in retail and recreation activity, which includes restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, museums, libraries, and movie theatres, while County Durham saw the smallest drop in the region, at 83 per cent.

However, the county saw the largest reduction in workplace mobility, suggesting more people are working from home or on furlough, compared to neighbouring areas.

The data focuses on six categories, also including transit stations, grocery and pharmacy, parks and residential, though the latter two had incomplete data in areas.

Changes in mobility are calculated using a baseline, which is a median value for the corresponding day of the week during January 3 and February 6, 2020, and is a snapshot of one particular day - March 29.

Grocery and pharmacy activity is the least affected across the board, with the largest decrease, in North Yorkshire, sitting at 48 per cent, followed by Darlington and Stockton at 47 per cent. Shoppers remain active again in County Durham with just a 42 per cent decrease in mobility.

However, Leaks Pharmacy, in Pity Me, has “certainly noticed a decrease in footfall”.

Manager Andrew Perkins said the decrease is especially evident compared to panic buying just two weeks prior.

He said: “It was crazy at first, with people climbing over each other and panic buying.

“People are responding well to social distancing now. We only let three people in at the time, and they have to be two metres apart.

“Now all the big supermarkets are doing it properly, people are getting the hang of it. They’re just to waiting outside.

“We’ve had a huge request for deliveries too but they are managed and funded by the pharmacies, there’s no help from government. We normally restrict ours to elderly and disabled people so are grateful for the volunteer groups that have been helping to get out prescriptions - without them we’d have to expand our service.”

Grocery and pharmacy data spikes across Darlington, County Durham, Stockton, Hartlepool, North Yorkshire, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland before its decline, highlighting panic buying around the same time as the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Activity around transit stations, meaning bus and train stations, also dropped significantly, especially in Darlington which saw a decrease of 75 per cent, the largest change in the region, while Redcar and Cleveland, the smallest change, came in at just 62 per cent.

It’s worth noting that data is inclusive of key workers, many of which may rely on public transport.

However, some councils have taken additional steps to discourage travel. Middlesbrough Bus Station, for example, has been closed in efforts to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “The advice from government, health experts and train operators is clear, you should only be travelling by train if your journey is essential. If you make a non-essential journey on a train service you are putting yourself and others at risk.

“Protect the NHS by staying at home.”

Nationally, people have stayed away from retail and recreation as seen in the North-East, with an 85 per cent drop in mobility, the largest change from tracked categories, followed by transit stations with a 75 per cent decrease. Workplace activity fall by 55 per cent, parks by 52 per cent and grocery and pharmacy by 46 per cent.

While residential data was difficult to anaylse in some areas of the North-East, across the country there was a 15 per cent increase in mobility, highlighting more people staying at home.

Here is the full picture for the North-East:

  • County Durham

The Northern Echo:

  • Darlington

The Northern Echo:

  • Middlesbrough

The Northern Echo:

  • Hartlepool

The Northern Echo:

  • Stockton

The Northern Echo:

  • Redcar and Cleveland

The Northern Echo:

  • North Yorkshire

The Northern Echo: