Downtown Chicago struggling with low Friday foot traffic
👋 Hey, Monica here. Last Friday I ventured downtown and learned that the rumors are true.
- Traffic is easy, street parking is plentiful, and you can eat lunch pretty much anywhere without a reservation.
Why it matters: Thousands of businesses rely on downtown workers' foot traffic, but those workers have returned to only about half of pre-pandemic levels, according to office card swipe data from Kastle Systems.
- Those levels drop by about half again on Friday, which could mean lasting changes for downtown cultural venues and businesses.
By the numbers: Rush-hour CTA ridership has risen 34% over last year, but only Tuesday through Thursday — the highest ridership days.
- Local workers reserve desk space most on Thursdays and least on Fridays, per office booking platform Robin.
The intrigue: In recent U.S. Census data, Chicago didn't even rank as a Top 10 city for highest percentage of remote workers.
- About 80% of Illinois respondents said they work primarily outside home.
Yes, but: Many in that 80% are still allowed to work remotely a few days a week. And guess which days they pick.
What they're saying: Employees are reshaping "their workweek to be more flexible, supporting a work-life balance of efficiency, well-being, and creativity," Robin co-founder Zach Dunn tells Axios.
- "As time continues, the teams that prioritize connections, employee experiences and modern workplaces that maximize in-person collaboration will see better outcomes."
Zoom in: These Friday doldrums allowed me to walk right into Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill for a delicious lunch last week with no wait. Great for me, but sad for restaurants.
- Maybe we can work to change this by planning Friday lunches — even collaborative meetings — at Chicago gems.
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