Thursday 11 February 2021 12:01 am

City workers’ favourite spots in trouble as vacant units soar over lockdown

The City’s after-work drinking spots, dry-cleaners and restaurants are all in trouble as new figures reveal the number of empty units have soared to a five-year high. 

The number of vacant units in the City of London increased a staggering 47 per cent, according to the Local Data Company, as the pandemic decimates the area’s trade. 

The Square Mile has been particularly badly hit by lockdown restrictions, with the vacancy rate increasing by 3.5 per cent compared to an average 1.3 per cent for Greater London. The number of empty units has grown from 174 at the end of 2019 to 225 by the end of last year.

“The City of London has been dramatically hit given that the vast majority of the worker population, on which these businesses are almost solely reliant, went away overnight as the Government’s initial work from home order kicked in,” Lucy Stainton, head of retail at the Local Data Company said. 

“The fact that a significant number of retailers deemed ‘essential’ have chosen not to open in this location throughout various lockdowns, despite their ability to trade, is a further indication of just how low current consumer demand is in the City.” 

Hospitality businesses which are particularly reliant on City workers are calling on the government to extend the business rates holiday as venues close. 

More than 150 London pubs, bars and restaurants closed permanently last year, according to recent research. 

Chains have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic with brands having had to rationalise their London estates. Local Data Company’s research shows 54 per cent of all closures seen in the City last year were in the hospitality and leisure units.