Slow Foot Traffic Is Hurting City Businesses

By: Kaydee Ambas · February 28, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hybrid Work Schedules

Hybrid work schedules provide employees unprecedented convenience. But for the businesses located on the streets those workers once walked daily, the schedule shift is proving decidedly inconvenient.

Worker-catered services, such as restaurants and hotels in downtown areas of major metros, have seen sales return to pre-pandemic levels — but only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Even with restrictions lifted, Monday and Friday remain incredibly slow for these businesses, putting a significant dent in sales.

With remote flexibility now a workplace norm, this trend may not change anytime soon.

No More Happy Hours

In most major metros, hybrid work schedules have led employees to spend thousands less at local businesses throughout the year.

For example, WFH Research estimated the average worker in New York City spent $4,661 less at businesses near their workplace between June and November of last year. The same is true for workers in city centers across the US, with over a dozen metros seeing a decrease in spending by at least $2,000 per person.

This suggests that hybrid schedules aren’t just keeping people home for the workdays, but for the coffee runs and happy hours, too. The reduced spending is leaving many businesses struggling to keep the doors open.

Back to the Burbs?

Trends like this showcase the power that consumers have to influence the economy. A single shift in preference can trigger a ripple effect felt for years to come.

As customers leave town, service workers — whose wages are dependent on traffic — will follow. In turn, businesses may do the same. Restaurant options will most likely start to shutter in downtown areas and reemerge in surrounding suburbs to cater to work-from-home employees.

With this in mind, if you have a favorite restaurant downtown, you might want to consider going out of your way to continue supporting it. There’s no telling how it might be faring – and how a simple decision you make could change that.

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