Have Consumers Abandoned the Cities?

Jul 11, 2023 | Macro Insights, No Bull Economics

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Cities became a place to dread after covid – it was not just the fear of contagion, but the concern of being locked down in a small space. Employees in office jobs got a taste of freedom working from home, without the commute, and never fully returned. Crime levels have subsequently increased. According to research from the University of Toronto, traffic hasn’t come close to recovering in all but a few American cities with huge implications for retail & commercial real estate.


  • The University of Toronto analyzed the change in mobile device data usage across the major metros to compare post-covid business/traffic activity with pre-covid levels (100%). 
  • What will it take to restore the cities? Is it even possible?
  • We hear a lot about 15-minute cities as the wave of the future, but it seems like these planners are out of touch with the emergent demand for space, safety, and freedom that people have come to cherish after having their world shaken by bad post-covid public policy in the major cities.    
  • As evident by the chart below, cities like San Francisco, St. Louis, Portland & Minneapolis have a very long way to go to restore trust among both consumers, retailers & employers sufficient to restore prosperity to these once iconic cities.

Source: Recovery Rankings (downtownrecovery.com)

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