BUSINESS leaders and civic chiefs have heralded the resolve of Bournemouth businesses as research suggests footfall in the town was above pre-lockdown levels last month.

Bournemouth was one of only 14 of the United Kingdom’s 63 largest towns and cities where footfall in August exceeded the figures recorded before the pandemic hit.

The Dorset town recovered to 133 per cent of pre-lockdown levels, behind only Blackpool, according to data from the Centre for Cities’ Street Recovery Tracker, in partnership with Nationwide Building Society.

While senior councillors admit last month was boosted by the summer sun, ‘staycations’ and the Eat Out to Help scheme, they praised the town’s businesses.

Councillor Mark Howell, BCP Council portfolio holder for regeneration and culture, said: “We are pleased that the number of visitors to our town centres is returning to pre-lockdown levels.

“It is a testament to the enduring appeal of the area, the strength of the local economy and the efforts of our local businesses, partner organisations and staff.

“Undoubtedly, good weather and particularly an increased demand for ‘staycations’ has contributed to visitor numbers, as has the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

“BCP Council and its partners have worked very hard to enable the reopening of high street businesses safely and successfully.”

Action taken included introducing street and banner signage to promote social distancing, queue management strategies, providing downloadable signage and ensuring that eligible businesses can access sorely needed funding, said Cllr Howell.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the businesses themselves,” he added.

“They have worked incredibly hard to follow government guidelines and by doing so have given visitors the confidence to return and continue to enjoy the great experiences that our town centres have to offer.”

According to mobile phone tracking data, overall town and city centre footfall has been at 63 per cent of pre-lockdown levels since the beginning of August.

Paul Kinvig, Bournemouth Town Centre BID chief operating officer, said figures have shown that coastal towns are recovering at a quicker rate than other towns and cities.

He said: “It is a testament to the businesses who have looked after customers and taken things very seriously when it comes to customer safety.”