Working from home revolution leaves ‘permanently scarred’ high streets


The work from home revolution has caused “permanent scarring” to the UK’s high streets as staff continue to shun the office months after pandemic restrictions have ended, the boss of a data firm has warned.

Diane Wehrle, chief executive of Springboard, which tracks shop visitor numbers across the country, said footfall in towns and cities still remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

Even during the Jubilee weekend, when shoppers and revellers were out in force, visitor numbers only hit 80pc of the same week in 2019, she added.

Separate figures from Transport for London showed that in the run up to the celebrations, travel into the capital by commuters was only back to around 69pc of normal levels.

Ms Wehrle said the drop was a result of shops in urban centres no longer getting passing footfall from office workers, as well as the growth in online shopping that was triggered by nationwide lockdowns.

But she warned that if working from home continued at current levels, it would likely mean footfall would permanently remain 10pc lower than it otherwise would be.

She told The Telegraph: “It impacts footfall because workers are simply not in towns or cities as much. 

“So, of course, it’s going to keep footfall lower than it would have been, had everyone gone back to their offices full time.

“Unless that changes, there will be a permanent scarring and certainly permanent change in the way we shop.

“Of course, that immediately impacts all the shops and the stores that service the offices in central London and other cities –  sandwich bars, the restaurants, the chemists.”

She added: “In my view, until or unless there is a substantive return to the office by employees, then footfall will continue to remain at circa 10pc below the 2019 level.”



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