Posted On Aug 04, 2022.
Of all the lasting changes brought about by the pandemic, a lack of action at Alabama bars and restaurants doesn’t appear to be on the list.
According to data from DataHerald and Safe Graph, foot traffic in bars and restaurants in three of Alabama’s four largest cities - Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham and Mobile - has finally caught up to pre-pandemic levels. And in some cases, far surpassed it.
And that’s not only since the rock bottom of the pandemic, but even from the years before most of us owned a mask.
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Safe Graph used data on foot traffic to calculate the number of visits four minutes or longer at bars and restaurants in each city in Alabama. Using January of 2020 as a baseline, each of the state’s major cities has followed a similar trend, with a huge bottoming out in the early days of the pandemic in March and April of 2020, followed by a slow and steady rise that gave way to a sharp return to normal.
Three of the four cities are already above their pre-pandemic peaks for bar and restaurant patronage. Birmingham saw the smallest percentage increase of the three, with only a 1% rise in foot traffic from January 2020 to April of 2022, the last month for which data was available. April was the first month since the onset of the pandemic that Birmingham had reached its 2020 baseline.
Mobile saw a more substantial uptick in bar and restaurant traffic, and reach pre-pandemic levels much sooner. By March of 2021, Mobilians were back at bars and restaurants at higher levels than before the pandemic. By this April, the city was seeing 9% more traffic than in January of 2020.
But none of the state’s largest cities can rival Montgomery. The state capital followed a similar trend to Mobile, until recently, when its numbers shot through the roof. Montgomery enjoyed a whopping 17% increase in bar in restaurant traffic from 2020 to 2022.
Huntsville - Alabama’s largest city - is the only one that hasn’t yet caught up to pre-pandemic levels. The Rocket City did reach the January 2020 baseline in October of last year, but has fallen back down slightly since then. As of April, traffic at Huntsville bars and restaurants was still down 4% since before the pandemic.