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  • 89% of professionals view returning to the office as an opportunity to support the high street and local businesses
  • On average, workers plan on spending half their working week in the office (2.8 days) 
  • Over two-fifths (41%) will be shopping locally during their lunch break
  • Increased footfall could increase annual revenue for outlets by £748.44 (per customer)
  • One in three (30%) will order takeaway food and drinks when working from home

April 2022: With nearly half of UK professionals continuing to work from home, weekday footfall on local high streets is down 30%. Real Business Rescue has surveyed workers to understand how they plan on supporting their high street and how often they will be visiting the office. You can view the full piece here.

The number of independent retail stores is at its highest in five years, as a net 2,157 outlets opened in 2021. But as people continue to work from home in full time or hybrid roles, the high street may never reach pre-pandemic footfall levels again.

The good news is, with over a quarter (29%) of professionals planning to work from the office five days a week, businesses may start to see an increase in footfall. Workers are seeing their return as an opportunity to put money back into the high street, with 89% planning to buy items from independent businesses.

Food outlets and cafes in particular will reap this reward as they fuel professionals, which will be particularly needed as their commute turns up a notch. It seems decent coffee will never be underappreciated by workers, as one in three (30%) plan on buying coffees and treats from their local cafés when they’re back in the office.

Over two fifths (41%) of professionals plan on spending money in shops on their lunch break, and outlets providing consumables like lunch should take this as a key revenue driver. Working hard creates a healthy appetite, as more than a quarter of respondents (27%) plan on buying lunch at least three times a week.

With mouth-watering food on offer around them, in this case, peer pressure will be a positive for nearby outlets, as 25% of workers said they will be encouraging their colleagues to shop locally as well.

Since the research found that, on average, workers plan on going into the office 2.8 days a week, businesses should seize the opportunity to feed hungry and busy professionals. If each customer bought lunch almost three times a week, businesses could expect to increase monthly revenue by £62.37 per customer, and therefore an annual revenue increase of £748.44 per customer.

Supporting the high street isn’t limited to single visits, as almost one in five (19%) workers plan on bulk buying items to enjoy while working at home throughout the week.

For those workers who don’t plan on visiting the office, they are, however, thinking ahead and looking at how they can support businesses from afar.

Outlets that deliver are also a prime target for remote workers, as one in three (30%) will be ordering takeaway food, drinks and produce from local businesses when they work from home.

On average, survey respondents revealed they spend £19.97 a week on various items in local shops (not limited to food). If just one customer spent around £20 each week, local businesses could expect almost a £1,000 increase (£958.71) in revenue per professional.

Commenting on the research, Shaun Barton, National Online Business Operations Director at Real Business Rescue said:

“With footfall potentially on the increase and the good weather attracting those eager for retail therapy, there are a number of ways local businesses can encourage hybrid and remote workers to spend their money:

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  • Create an attractive shop front. Let your customers know you’re ready for business. Keeping the front door open creates an inviting, approachable entrance to your store.
  • Keep the customer journey at the forefront. Think about your customer’s journey from start to finish as soon as they enter your shop. Their experience should be simple, efficient and enjoyable. 
  • Market your goods. Whether you invest in online marketing or use traditional methods such as offering samples to people on the high street, let your brand and quality produce be known.
  • Provide excellent customer service. Give customers a reason to come back. Provide excellent in-store experience and knowledge, which can build loyalty and trust with prospective consumers.
  • Contactless payments. Make it easier for your customers to pay, as contactless, cashless payment options are almost expected by consumers as the norm since COVID-19.”

Real Business Rescue’s report uncovers the spending habits of UK professionals when working from home and in the office. One thousand UK residents participated in the report and found the following:

How many workers will be returning to the office

  • Just over a quarter (29%) of workers plan on going into the office five days a week
  • Over one in five (21%) will spend two days a week in the office
  • On average, workers plan on going into the office 2.8 days a week

Shopping locally is a key opportunity for professionals to spend money

  • 92% of workers want to support the high street more
  • 89% of workers view returning to the office as an opportunity to support the high street and local business
  • Over three-quarters (78%) of workers are planning to shop more independently than before the pandemic to support small businesses
  • 44% of people intend to “shop locally instead of travelling to shops in different areas”
  • 25% of workers said they will also be encouraging their colleagues to shop locally as well
  • Almost one in five (19%) plan on buying consumable items they can enjoy when working at home

There will be many mouths to feed

  • One in three (30%) professionals will be buying coffees and treats from local cafés
  • Over two-fifths (41%) intend to “​shop locally” during their lunch break
  • A quarter of respondents (27%), said they plan to buy lunch 3 days a week
  • The mean spend on lunch each day is £6.93
  • If workers plan to go to the office 2.8 times a week on average and purchase lunch, this could equate to a weekly spend of £15.59
  • Increased footfall would increase monthly revenue for businesses by £62.37 and an annual revenue increase of £748.44 – just from customers buying lunch almost three times a week
  • 41% of people plan to spend money on their lunch break on a range of goods
  • One in three (30%) will order takeaway food, drinks and produce from local businesses when working from home

Adapting spending habits

  • On average, survey respondents said they spend £19.97 a week in local shops
  • This equates to £79.89 being spent monthly and £958.71 annually in local, high street shops just from one person.
  • 29% plan on catching up with friends and colleagues for a meal after work
  • 25% plan to buy food out when they’re in the office


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