Foot traffic in Perth’s CBD is still down by half this week after dropping by as much as 60 per cent since the city was plunged into lockdown.
However, Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief economist Aaron Morey doesn’t predict the pandemic will spell the end of busy city centres.
Mr Morey said there were indications about half of Perth’s city workers were yet to return to the office, but urged people to make the commute in as soon as it was safe to support the small businesses reliant on CBD trade.
“Small retailers – hairdressers, beauticians – they’re all suffering from reduced foot traffic, so it’s really important that we get as many people back into the city as possible,” he said.
“It’s really important that we support those small businesses in particular in and around the city with as many people as possible coming back to work.”
COVID-19 measures such as masks were having an effect on the amount of people who chose to return to the office, Mr Morey said, and there was a broader change towards working from home models in many industries.
However, while he expected businesses to reduce their city footprints in the future, Mr Morey said this didn’t mean the end of vibrant CBDs.
“CBDs are the lifeblood of economies – they bring people together, people can exchange ideas, and that’s great for commerce and great for business going forward, I don’t expect that to change,” he said.