America’s downtowns are making a comeback, according to a new report in Bloomberg—and in many major cities, office buildings are back to 75% occupancy, other research found. These findings will come as no surprise to you if you live in a city like New York or Los Angeles and have tried to get a dinner reservation lately. People want to go out and get together again, not necessarily in an office 5 days per week, and they’re acting on that impulse.
Given that the U.S. avoided a recession in 2023 and consumer spending is strong, I’m betting this trend will continue. And it’s not just big-city downtowns that are growing like gangbusters. It’s also local ones, in the suburbs, where we have a number of offices. When I work from our Long Island office, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how vibrant many local downtowns have become since being virtually shuttered in the not-so-distant past.
Many people disagreed with me when I began encouraging our team to return to the office after the pandemic, but this new activity in our downtowns is reminding me of why I did. Yes, it’s hard to get from Point A to Point B quickly in the New York City Metro area—and in many major metros these days—but there’s no substitute for the human connection that comes from grabbing a cup of coffee or breaking bread with a colleague, and it’s nice to have some options as to where to dine. While many of us have gotten to know colleagues across a screen and learned to innovate and share best practices, all of this is much easier in person. That’s not to mention all of the learning that happens by osmosis during these informal interactions.
I hope that everyone on our team who is commuting into their office is taking advantage of all of the opportunities to dine out, enjoy the cultural attractions that have come roaring back, and enjoy some holiday window shopping during their lunch breaks. It’s not only good for us as human beings, but it’s good for our local economies, too—economies that are often driven by the entrepreneurial companies we serve.
Don’t forget Saturday night before you go to sleep to turn your clock back 1 hour and enjoy an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning. Daylight savings time ends this weekend so it will be lighter earlier in the morning, but darker earlier at night. Oh well, looking forward to the return of daylight savings in March.