TheVitality IndexMeasuring the return of people and places

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Driving strategic decisions through data and revealing the next normal

Labor Day to Labor Day

Total office visitors, week of Sept 12, 2022 vs week of Sept 13, 2021, North America

After two and a half years of unprecedented disruption to how we work and live, companies across North America continue to grapple with uncertainty. What will the future of work look like? Are city downtowns regaining their pre-pandemic vitality? How will societal, cultural and environmental shifts shape the next normal?

Avison Young’s Vitality Index helps organizations answer these questions. By measuring and analyzing daily foot traffic at strategic locations across markets in Canada and the United States, the index offers a weekly view on where people are actually spending their time—revealing valuable insights into the future of the workplace, consumer behaviors and emerging property needs.

The Vitality Index uses anonymized cell phone location data from Orbital Insight to estimate total foot traffic in cities and across industries and property types. The data goes back to June 2019 in the United States and the beginning of 2020 in Canada, allowing comparisons to pre-pandemic levels. Users can sort the data by location, office industry, day of the week and type of property, among other filters, to understand current and emerging patterns and make informed decisions about what comes next.

A single source of truth

The Vitality Index provides essential data for employers, commercial real estate stakeholders, urban planners and anyone interested in the future of the workplace and the vitality of cities. It can help companies and organizations look beyond what’s worked in the past to create new value and guide decisions about everything from the right amount of office or retail space to locations for new development.

With the pandemic, the whole world shifted its relationship to work and the physical office. Different groups whether that’s occupier or investor or employee have varying viewpoints as to how this will play out. But The Vitality Index is providing a single source of truth.
Sheila Botting Principal
Avison Young’s President of Professional Services for the Americas

“With the pandemic, the whole world shifted its relationship to work and the physical office,” said Sheila Botting, Avison Young’s President of Professional Services for the Americas. “Different groups whether that’s occupier or investor or employee have varying viewpoints as to how this will play out. But The Vitality Index is providing a single source of truth.”

While the climb back to pre-pandemic levels of office occupancy remains steep, The Vitality Index reveals a steady increase in activity in major North American markets since Labor Day weekend 2022. Data for the week of September 19 shows that average foot traffic has increased by 4.1% in the United States and 8.5% in Canada compared with the week of Labor Day.

Let's talk about flex

Flexible office provider versus non-flexible office visitation across North America, the week after Labor Day 2022 relative to the week preceding the lockdown

The Vitality Index also shows that traffic to flexible office providers has been superior to all other office industries across the U.S. and Canada throughout the pandemic, measuring at 79.1% as of the week of September 19 relative to the week preceding the lockdown. All other office industries averaged a recovery rate of just 45.2% in that timeframe.

Social downtowns are back, but working downtowns are still struggling to recover.
Julian Adams Principal
Director of Data Science

Offices are not the only draw to cities or urban areas, which is underscored by the fact that The Vitality Index shows traffic to retail experiences, sporting events and other leisure activities surging, indicating other sectors have largely recovered. Indeed, significant traffic variations are emerging between cities and among various office types, suggesting the next normal is taking shape for how people live and work—and our relationships with place and space will evolve.  

For example, traffic to retail corridors is down just 18.9% relative to the pre-lockdown period. Traffic across North America shows more recovery on weekends than on weekdays, and the hospitality, recreation, and tourism sectors have returned nearly to pre-pandemic visitor levels.

“Social downtowns are back, but working downtowns are still struggling to recover,” said Julian Adams, Avison Young’s Principal, Director, Data Science.

“We can’t underestimate the power of many people having back their work-life balance and new levels of flexibility in their work styles,” Botting said. “But on the other side, when you have people in the office, there’s buzz. There’s action, connectivity and sparks. What we’re trying to solve for now is this hybrid model: What does it look like, and how does it take shape by industry, sector and individual client?”

Office recovery in Canada

The broader implications

The evolving nature of where and how people work has a significant impact on everything from city planning to the viability of retailers and other businesses located near office buildings and the demand for public transportation and infrastructure.

Our communities and workplaces are fundamentally interconnected, and we know that office occupancy is a primary driver for the broader vitality of cities. The Vitality Index is giving us a glimpse into the next story of people and the places we thrive in.
Craig Leibowitz Executive Director
Innovation and Insight Advisory, U.S.

The implications are massive,” said Craig Leibowitz, Avison Young’s Executive Director of Innovation and Insight Advisory in the U.S. “Our communities and workplaces are fundamentally interconnected, and we know that office occupancy is a primary driver for the broader vitality of cities. The Vitality Index is giving us a glimpse into the next story of people and the places we thrive in.”

As employers and employees gradually reach consensus regarding where and how work gets done, continually refreshed data that reveals emerging trends will only become more important. Avison Young’s Vitality Index provides a comprehensive view of how people and places are moving forward. For companies and organizations of all types and sizes, it offers specific location data and insights to guide and inform essential decisions about what comes next.

CONNECT WITH US TO LEARN ABOUT THE VITALITY INDEX

Key contacts

Craig Leibowitz

    • Executive Director, Innovation and Insight Advisory, U.S.
[email protected]avisonyoung.com

Sheila Botting

    • Principal & President Americas, Professional Services
    • Consulting & Advisory
[email protected]avisonyoung.com

Julian Adams

    • Principal, GIS Practice and Product Lead
    • Global Services
    • Innovation and Insight
[email protected]avisonyoung.com

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