Over half of all vacant units in the City of London last year were previously occupied by leisure and hospitality outlets, new figures reveal.
Analysis provided by the Local Data Company show that restaurants and cafes dominated the closures list, making up 54% of total closures during 2020.
Some 83% of those that closed were part of chains.
The retail data consultancy said that the overall number of vacant units in the City of London increased by 47% from 174 at the end of 2019 to 255 at the end of 2020, as workers stayed home during the Covid-19 pandemic and footfall fell across the district.
This equated to an increase in vacancy rate in the City of 3.5% in 2020 compared to an average increase of 1.3% for Greater London and 1.6% for the whole of Great Britain.
Retail stock is densely supplied with food-to-go units, pubs, bars and restaurants, usually serving the busy working population, which for almost a full year, have been working from home, often in the outer, more residential areas of London.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, commented: “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.
“However, looking forward 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.”