UK high street foot traffic down 18% from pre-pandemic levels due to hybrid working

The UK’s downtown has been hit hard by the shift to hybrid work, down 18% from last year’s pre-pandemic levels, according to the report.

All retail store traffic increased 10.8% from May to December compared to the same month in 2021, according to Springboard, a consulting firm that specializes in retail data analytics. Did.

However, UK traffic to all destinations will remain 14.2% lower in 2022 than in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boulevard has been hit particularly hard by the shift to hybrid work, with weekday traffic remaining down 18.2% from 2019 levels over the last year.

According to Springboard’s quarterly retail consumer survey, an average of 55% of consumers will work from home at least a few days a week by 2022, and the extent of working from home has changed little throughout the year. not.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s Director of Insights, said hybrid work arrangements are now an established feature of the UK economy and will put downward pressure on a recovery to 2019 levels.

She predicts that traffic will not return to pre-pandemic levels, saying: Destinations across the UK would have declined every year anyway.

“Footfall has declined by an average of 1.3% each year since 2009 in the 10 years Springboard has published data, so even without COVID, overall UK retail footfall is now 2009.

“Taking this into account, all things being equal, footfall will not return to pre-pandemic footfall levels, with a 5-10% gap from 2019 in 2023. Springboard anticipates.”

Reduced office space

A study published last November found that around 1.8 million square meters of office floor space, the equivalent of 248 football fields, went unused in the UK over the past year, likely due to the shift to hybrid work. I was.

Law firm Boodle Hatfield, which conducted the study, found that London has the highest amount of unused office space, especially in areas such as Westminster and the City.

Hybrid working practices have led some companies to significantly reduce office space by subleasing or even not renewing leases in some cases, says the report.

Epoch Times photo
Liberal Democrat MP Wella Hobhouse works on her laptop during the COVID-19 pandemic at her home in Bath, South West England, on April 21, 2020. (Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images)

Commercial landlords struggling to find replacement tenants are said to be taking properties off the market for redevelopment into better grade office space or repurposing for residential use.

A survey conducted last spring found that three out of four workers in London thought they would never return to the office full-time after learning that working from home had improved their quality of life. rice field.

A study by the Policy Institute and King’s College London found that 6 in 10 workers in London are in a hybrid mode of working, working at least one day a week from home and less than five days a week at work or in the office. I answered yes.

work impact

The survey found that while many London workers feel that working from home has had a positive impact and improved their quality of life, not having to commute to the office was also the biggest factor for 80%. It has proven to be one of its advantages. investigated.

But research shows that people who work from home (45%) are much less likely to report feeling connected to others than those who work in London (79%). I understand.

It turns out that the performance impact of hybrid work is not always positive. A study of Microsoft staff found that information workers who work remotely tend to be less productive in the long run.

The authors of this study observed short-term productivity gains immediately after companies switched from working in the office to working remotely, but over longer periods of time increased work hours and decreased productivity. was showing

The study found that communication between employees became more static, with fewer new contacts being formed and deleted between employees.

The researchers noted low connectivity between formal business units and “siled” networks within informal networks, creating condensed groups with little connectivity.

The shift to hybrid work has also led to an increase in labor disputes.

Employment law firm GQ Littler said in November that there were 190 employment tribunal cases over the past year, a slight increase from the previous year, stemming from disagreements over how many days employees should be in the office. Stated.

Some employers require employees to come to the office on certain days of the week, but this is often discouraged.

Sophie Vanhegan of GQ Littler said:

“Many companies are listening to their employees and implementing hybrid work models, but sometimes finding the right balance for everyone is proving difficult.”

Katabella Roberts and PA Media contributed to this report.