Shopper foot traffic is increasing in U.S. downtowns, a good sign for return to office efforts, retail businesses, and urban multifamily. Foot traffic in central business districts was 27.8 percent below 2019 levels in May from 32 percent below pre-pandemic levels in April, according to Springboard data. It’s the narrowest margin to pre-pandemic levels since the start of the COVID.
Springboard’s data indicates that “central business district” foot traffic improved over all periods during the day in May, but breakfast and lunch saw the most significant gains. The report said the increased foot traffic shows the shift back to the office has accelerated in the past year. Downtown traffic was about 60 percent higher in May 2022 compared to May 2021, but according to the report, “While a bounce back in downtown traffic from 2021 over the working day is evident, it still has a long way to go to catch up with the recovery during the evening period.”
Any sign of more vibrancy in central business districts is good, so the report is excellent news for landlords with urban real estate assets. The report could also indicate the news of an exodus from major metropolitan areas could be exaggerated. A new analysis from Moody’s Analytics REIS suggests “little evidence” of permanent moves away from urban areas. Central business districts may be getting their groove back slowly but surely, showing that urban real estate is more resilient than some may have thought.