Central London footfall continues to rise thanks to office return

Central London footfall further closed in on pre-pandemic levels last month, as office workers and shoppers continued to return to the capital.


For October, footfall moved to 22.2 per cent below 2-19 levels, compared to minus 32.2 per cent in September, according to retail experts Springboard.


It comes as some office spaces have reported a slowing down of the return of remote workers, after recent headlines have laid bare the potential threat of Covid restrictions being required again this winter.


In the continued absence of overseas tourists, the rise of UK city centre footfall suggests that the drift back to the office is accelerating, Springboard said.


Elsewhere, in regional cities outside of the capital, footfall reached minus 15.7 per cent from minus 19.3 per cent in September. 


Doctors and scientific advisers have called on ministers to introduce tougher coronavirus measures to prevent another lockdown, including mandatory mask wearing and guidance to work from home where possible again.


Despite some uncertainty around the pandemic, retailers in the heart of the capital are keen to make this a Christmas to remember and hoping to maximise pent-up demand after restrictions dampened festive socialising last year.


Across the UK and retail destinations, footfall during in October was 13.4 per cent lower than in 2019 compared with minus 17.4 per cent in September. 


The vacancy rate was still high at 11.7 per cent, marking only a marginal improvement from 11.8 per cent in July. 


Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director, said: “This is despite the growth of pop-up stores that are a typical feature of retail destinations in the run up to Christmas, but which should be even more prevalent now given the greater availability of empty space. However, this is not a surprising outcome as the vacancy rate is both a lagged and sticky indicator. 


“The complexities of the leasing market and the heavy burden of business rates hinders the reoccupation of empty units whilst also often forcing unviable retailers to continue to trade, highlighting its limitations as the sole indicator for determining bricks and mortar retail performance.”


City A.M. (Emily Hawkins) - https://www.cityam.com/central-london-footfall-continues-to-rise-thanks-to-office-return/

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