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Manchester and Liverpool are lagging behind the North West's smaller towns and cities in post lockdown spending.

The North West's smaller towns and cities appear to be leading the Covid recovery - with locations like Blackburn and Birkenhead reporting sharp rises in pre-pandemic spending levels, while Manchester and Liverpool lag behind.

According to new figures analysed by insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, smaller centres led the way following the reopening of non-essential shops and hospitality venues with outdoor seating.

The offline sales figures reveal that spending increased in all locations following the easing of restrictions on April 12, and has remained above pre-pandemic levels everywhere except in Manchester and Liverpool.

Four North West centres were amongst the top ten nationally in terms of spending recovery.

In Blackburn and Birkenhead , spending was at 117% of pre-pandemic levels in the week ending April 24, while in Warrington it was at 114% and in Preston, 112% of previous levels.