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Loss of life notices for town are untimely

On a Monday night final month, three FT colleagues and I every travelled throughout London to convene at a pub quiz in Hackney. We put in a robust efficiency, ending second and narrowly lacking out on the £350 prize.

However I digress. The explanation I inform this story is that none of us had been within the workplace that day, but all of us felt completely completely satisfied to spend roughly the identical quantity of time and cash on our journeys to and from the pub as we might have completed commuting to the FT’s central London HQ.

This could recommend it’s not simply the associated fee or length of journey that’s stopping metropolis dwellers from spending 5 days per week within the workplace; it’s that standing nose-to-armpit on a packed commuter practice just isn’t enjoyable, however sitting on an ethereal practice to a pub filled with buddies is.

Information from Transport for London bear this out. Morning rush hour journeys on the Underground are nonetheless at simply half their pre-pandemic ranges on Mondays and Fridays, however the variety of individuals utilizing the Tube late within the night is nearly again to regular.

Chart showing that rush-hour journeys on the London Underground are still at just half of pre-pandemic levels, but in the evening the Tube is as busy as ever

In line with the latest data from Remit Consulting, the capital’s places of work are nonetheless solely round half as full as they have been earlier than the pandemic, falling to only a third of historic ranges on Mondays and Fridays as many employers change to a Tuesday-to-Thursday hybrid model. However each different indicator of city dynamism has rebounded nearer to its pre-pandemic baseline than workplace attendance.

Tube journeys are again above 70 per cent of their normal levels, and above 60 per cent even within the coronary heart of the office-dominated monetary districts of the Sq. Mile and Canary Wharf. Footfall in west London’s core retail and leisure districts is as much as 80 per cent, in accordance with information from the New West End Company, and transactions at Pret A Manger have recovered to pre-pandemic ranges, according to Bloomberg’s ingenious Pret Index.

Transfer additional into the realms of leisure, and the numbers preserve rising. My calculations present that attendance at soccer matches throughout the capital has by no means been larger, and spending in its pubs and eating places is now monitoring above the place it was in 2019, in accordance with figures from Fable Data. Evidently a few of us usually are not merely returning to previous habits, however making up for misplaced time.

Chart showing that offices in London are still at less than half of usual capacity, but many other aspects of city life have recovered to pre-pandemic levels

The pattern in London is broadly mirrored in different main cities worldwide, although not all are rebounding as enthusiastically. In New York, maybe much more reliant on workplace staff for its social and financial lifeblood, subway traffic is less than half way back to normal, and restaurant bookings still trail 40 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. Nonetheless, the retail and leisure restoration is clearly outpacing the return to the desk.

Whereas the continued lag within the return to the workplace will certainly have repercussions, these wholesome figures are a tonic for any urbanites who might need feared the pandemic would go away metropolis lights completely dimmed.

john.burn-murdoch@ft.com


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