Monday 7 September 2020 3:30 pm

Central London footfall jumps as office workers start to return

Retail footfall in central London jumped last week as workers began returning to the office, in a sign of hope for struggling businesses in the capital, the latest research showed.

Footfall increased 4.1 per cent across inner London high streets compared to the previous week as firms began to welcome employees back to the office.

Read more: Retail footfall jumps as consumers get their fill of Eat Out to Help Out scheme

However footfall remained sharply down compared to August 2019 with an annual fall of 51.9 per cent in central London. 

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have warned that they could face closure without a drive to encourage workers and tourists back into the centre of the capital. 

Pret a Manger, which caters to office workers, has already announced the loss of 2,800 jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Greater London high streets, where office employment is higher than anywhere else in the UK, recorded a bigger jump of 5.3 per cent, according to the latest data from Springboard. 

Across UK high streets, where many workplaces are based, footfall rose 2.6 per cent. Visitor numbers dropped 0.9 per cent in retail parks and 2.7 per cent in shopping centres due to the lower number of offices at those locations. 

Meanwhile, overall retail footfall across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres was down 25 per cent, marking the best result since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK. 

Read more: UK economy: Retail footfall grows but job vacancies flatline

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The week of August Bank Holiday Monday, which for many households represented the first week that children returned to school, led to a modest rise in footfall across all UK retail destinations. 

“Last week’s result was enough to continue the trend of recovery, delivering the best year on year result since the start of the lockdown in March.”