Hurricanes failed to halt recovery in pedestrian traffic in downtown Manhattan in August, supported by employees returning to the office and then boosted by Labor Day weekend, according to Springboard’s monthly retail report. Numbers still remain significantly down from 2019 levels, however.
Pedestrian traffic in NYC downtowns during August stayed virtually with July — -51% below the 2019 level, from down 50.7% in July. The increased number of employees returning to the office supported pedestrian traffic, with a stronger recovery in pedestrians over the weekends in August than during the working weeks (an average of -44.8% from 2019 over the weekends versus -47.9% between Monday and Friday). –
Hurricanes Henri and Ida meant that traffic worsened from -47.8% in the first week to -53% in the last week, the report said. Pedestrian traffic strengthened considerably over the Labor Day weekend — -24% below the 2019 level on Saturday and -14.3% on Sunday.
“Despite severe weather conditions created by hurricanes Henri and Ida, downtown pedestrian traffic in NYC during August stayed virtually level with July.This demonstrates the ongoing strengthening of retail, but also reflects the increased numbers of employees returning to the office (46% of employed NYC consumers worked full time out of the home in August and July, versus 37% in June),” observed Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director. “The fact that half of employees still work at least part of the week at home has clearly impacted when consumers visit US downtowns, with a stronger recovery in pedestrian traffic taking place over the weekend than during the working week during August. This is consistent with the fact that 25% of NYC consumers who are employed shop less frequently and 16% visit downtowns more in the evening or at the weekend.”
Pedestrian traffic worsened as the month progressed, from a gap from 2019 of -47.8% in the first week to a gap of -53% from 2019 in the final week as Hurricane Henri and then Hurricane Ida made landfall. Fortunately the worst of the weather passed in advance of the Labor Day weekend, resulting in a significant uplift in pedestrian traffic on both Saturday and Sunday as consumers headed out to shop. The two days recorded by far the best results of any day since the start of the pandemic. On September 4, traffic was -24% below the 2019 level, strengthening even further on Sunday September 5th to -14.3% below 2019.