Data from Mobile Phones Track Pandemic Rebound Numbers
Lower Manhattan is gradually recovering from the Covid-induced falloff in the number of people on local streets, according to a report from Placer.ai, a mobile data analytics firm that tracks the location of cellular phones to infer trends about foot traffic and population density. This may have significant implications for indicators such as the state of the local economy, area property values, and back-to-the-office initiatives by employers.
Because mobile-phone data (measured as the number of “pings” on local cellular towers) can track not just numbers of unique individuals, but also discern whether they are local residents or visitors to the community, Placer.ai can sift nuanced patterns from otherwise impenetrable statistics. And comparing these metrics to the same measures taken in 2019 can illustrate evolving population and market dynamics.
The firm’s new analysis, “Diving into Downtown Manhattan Foot Traffic Trends,” notes that the Financial District (which includes Battery Park City) and Tribeca both are still significantly below their headcounts from 2019. The Financial District is 33.5 percent lower in visits on Mondays through Thursdays, 35.4 percent down on Fridays, and 6.4 percent down on Saturdays and Sundays. The corresponding measures for Tribeca are 32.4 percent (Monday to Thursday), 34.2 percent (Friday), and 13.3 percent (Saturday/Sunday).
But more granular, daily breakdowns show that both communities experience the bulk of their current foot traffic in the middle of the work week, with Thursday measuring as the busiest day in both the Financial District (with 15.6 percent of all foot traffic for the week) and Tribeca (with 16.8 percent), while Saturday and Sunday mark the weekly low points for each.
In what may be an augury that local office buildings are beginning to repopulate, “Tribeca and the Financial District are busiest during the work week,” the report notes, “while visits to other neighborhoods peak on Saturdays.”