Covid & Communities


During the pandemic, place has played a very significant role. We have noted in particular that Covid-19 has been a tale of two ‘impacts’, a health impact that has been felt most severely in urban centres amongst minority populations, and an economic impact that has centred on areas with a significant clusters of retail, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Since March, we’ve been tracking the economic impact across different communities in the UK. Using real-time local transaction data provided by the Impact Information Company (Imfoco), we’ve been able to build a granular understanding of the local economic impact of the pandemic on different communities. Our analysis has found that coastal towns and seaside resorts had taken one of the biggest economic hits from the nationwide lockdown, with a dramatic collapse in local spending and corresponding spikes in unemployment.

The economic impact has been highlighted by SIB in our recent report on coastal towns; it has also played a role in helping us to prioritise applications in Power to Change’s emergency funding round for community-led organisations, and will do so again in their forthcoming renewal fund.

Covid and Communties

Our tracking of granular, local economic data has revealed, among many things, that different places recover at different paces.

The time series scatter plot below – using data from IMFOCO - reveals localised spending patterns from February to July. This pattern appears as uniform at the beginning, but then, as shown by the dispersion, places began to each feel the impact differently - before generally bouncing back by July.

The map – also using IMFOCO data - shows the average, year-on-year total spend at a local authority level from February to August, along with the percentage change. Please allow a few minutes for it to load fully. A script is running for data in both of these visualisations to regularly update – so you can revisit this section to track changes in localised spending habits. With the Government’s new tiered local lockdown system – we expect this to continue to show how new habits are being formed by local communities, where investment is needed in the recovery, and how that investment can create fairer communities.


Covid and Communties 02

Footnote: This timing potentially shows a magnitude of a bias due to an increased shift to card payments by consumers.

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