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London workers return to the office

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Despite workers returning to offices, Central London has still got 'a way to go' in its post-COVID recovery, Springboard said. Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty
Despite workers returning to offices, Central London has still got 'a way to go' in its post-COVID recovery, Springboard said. Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty

London workers are heading back to the office, according to new data from retail intelligence experts Springboard published on Monday.

Springboard's "Central London Back to Office Footfall Benchmark," which tracks footfall in key Central London locations where offices, rather than stores, are located, showed a 4.4% increase in the second week of May from the week before.

However, retail activity in Central London declined by 0.4% and also fell 3.1% in regional cities outside the capital.

The gap from the pre-pandemic 2019 footfall level for the "Back to the Office" benchmark is now smaller than that for Central London as a whole — at -17.1% compared to -21.8% across Central London.

This indicates that, despite workers returning to offices, Central London has still got "a way to go" in its post-COVID recovery, Springboard said.

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"Footfall dropped across all town types other than Outer London and market towns, initially suggesting that the return to the office had slowed as a greater resilience in these town types are synonymous with home working," said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

"However, this was countered by a rise in Springboard's Central London 'Back to the Office' benchmark."

Footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by 0.7%.

The number of shoppers visiting retail parks and shopping centres dropped by 1.8% and 2.3% respectively.

High streets, on the other hand, saw a 0.7% rise, "supported by the warm and dry weather".

The gap from the 2019 footfall level widened to -13.5% from -9.3% in the week before, in part due to a strong week-on-week performance in the same week in 2019 when footfall rose by 4.3%.

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