Vacant units in City of London increase by 47% during Covid-19 pandemic
New figures have shown that the number of vacant units in the City of London financial district increased by 47% to 255 at the end of 2020 as people worked from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The figures from retail data consultancy the Local Data Company reveal that the vacancy rate increased by 3.5% in the City compared to an average increase of 1.3% for Greater London and 1.6% for the whole of GB. This means that vacancy in the district is now at the highest level in five years.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: “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. 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.”
Some 54% of all closures seen in the City in 2020 were hospitality and leisure units, of which 83% were national chains. Other categories where there were closures were mainly comprised of chain units, including bars, shirtmakers and coffee shops.
Looking ahead, Stainton added: “We might expect that once people are able to safely return to offices, the need, and demand, for this supporting economy will return just as quickly as it went away, presenting a real opportunity for agile operators especially in those key categories such as take away food shops, bars and restaurants.”
Graph: closures across City of London in 2020 by retail category (top 10 only)
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