A return to the office has appeared to have stalled as London’s office hubs marked a drop in footfall last week.
Retail experts Springboard found that footfall declined by 4.2 per cent in areas in central London dominated by offices in the week beginning October 17.
The ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark metric suggests that workers may be opting to stay at home as rumours of winter Covid restrictions swirl.
Scientific advisers and doctors have urged ministers to act fast to prevent the need for another lockdown, with calls for mandatory mask rules and a work from home message once more.
Health secretary Sajid Javid warned that Covid-19 cases could hit 100,000 per day this winter.
On a positive note for the capital, the drop in footfall in central London as a whole was a third of that across UK high streets. Springboard said this suggested more visits were being made into central hubs for retail and leisure purposes.
While footfall declined by -3.6 per cent in high streets across the UK, in central London the drop was only -1.2% per cent.
Footfall rose marginally by 0.9 per cent in retail parks and by 0.4 per cent in shopping centres.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “High streets drove the drop in footfall last week, whilst it rose marginally in retail parks and shopping centres.
“It seems that the drift back to the office has also slowed with an even larger drop in regional cities outside of the capital, and in Springboard’s ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark.
“The drop in footfall in high streets was universal, spanning all UK geographies, but the most modest decline occurred in the Greater London region, which spans both central and outer London, whilst the poorest results were recorded in the North & Yorkshire and South West regions.”
Springboard and Transport for London said it was not a surprise that footfall and ridership numbers had dropped slightly due to this week being half-term for many schools.
Springboard said in five of the six years between 2014 and 2019 footfall declined from the week before in the week preceding the October school half term break.