April 2021 Business Reopening Insights

Business Reopening Survey Results

We recently issued a survey to our members, asking about plans for reopening. Thank you to all of the businesses that responded – the responses represent members from across the retail, hospitality and cultural sectors.


Business Reopening Status

To view the businesses that are open in our area, view the map below.

Sector breakdown

(as at 30 April 2021)

  • Cafés and Restaurants: 71 of 166 are open (43%)
  • Cultural Institutions: (inc. galleries, institutions, theatres and cinema) 5 of 39 are open (13%)
  • Hotels: 8 of 15 are open (53%)
  • Night Time Entertainment (inc. bars, clubs, pubs, casinos) – 10 of 43 are open (23%)
  • Retail: 109 of 187 are open ( 58%)
  • Office Sector: We continue to work with members and external groups to gather more evidence on the status of our office sector businesses

On the map below, the blue dots indicate businesses that are open while the red dots indicate businesses that are closed. You can zoom in and click on the dots to display the name of the business.

Overall Results

Reopening in line with the Government roadmap

With the first stage of reopenings taking place on 12 April, over 70% of respondents said they would reopen as soon as legally permitted, with only 9% saying they would postpone their reopening until a later date.

The balance of respondents said they were already open (17%) and a small portion were undecided at that point (4%).

Areas of support from Heart of London that are seen as the most valuable during this reopening period

  • Promoting the area to attract the return of visitors in line with government timelines (71%)
  • Cleaning for the area (65%)
  • Security for the area (55%)


Biggest challenges for business during this reopening period

Across all sectors surveyed, the biggest challenges that businesses predict will be around footfall and transport, with the top challenges being selected as:

  • Lack of international tourists returning to London (81%)
  • Lack of domestic tourists returning to the West End (58%)
  • Confidence in and usage of London public transport (58%)
  • Lack of workers returning to the area (55%)

Flexible working

Because of the nature of retail and hospitality businesses, approximately 48% of businesses said they would not be offering staff the opportunity to work from home.

Sectors that have the ability to offer more flexible working arrangements, with a balance between working from home and the workplace, provided the following responses about the return to the office:

  • 36% of respondents said they would work 5 full days in the workplace because of the nature of the roles
  • 31% said they were unsure, still planning and developing their return to work schedule
  • 29% of respondents said they expect workers to return to the workplace 3-4 days per week
  • 4% of respondents said they expect workers to return to the workplace 1-2 days per week

Sectoral Insights

Flexible working

  • Arts and cultural institutions seem to be embracing more flexible working across, presumably due to the diverse nature of the jobs within that sector making this possible. As mentioned, the hospitality and retail sectors are not able to offer flexible working because of the nature of these businesses.


Reopening in line with the Government roadmap

  • Most members overwhelmingly answered that they would open in line with the Government roadmap.
  • Some cultural institutions and hospitality venues have indicated that they would wait until a later date. Given the responses about the biggest challenges for these businesses, this is likely due to the lack of international tourist and concerns around transport.


Biggest challenges for business during the reopening period

  • Across all sectors, a lack of international tourists is a primary concern, followed closely by confidence and uptake in public transport, lack of domestic tourists and office workers.
  • When analysed by sector, the area of concern around international tourists is primarily driven by the hospitality sector. The arts and cultural sectors are more concerned by lack of uptake in public transport.
  • The retail sector is also concerned by the slow return of domestic tourists and the lack of incentives, to entice shoppers in store as opposed to purchasing online.


Return of the office sector

  • Through our involvement in the newly formed Workplace Recovery Board, with our Chief Executive, Ros Morgan as Co-Chair of this group, we will be keeping our members informed about plans for the return of the office sector.
  • This will include employers and employee communications about return to the workplace feedback, preparations, as well data, insights and campaign messaging.
  • If you would like to discuss your office sector return please contact matt.arnold@heartoflondonbid.co.uk

Book a call with our Member Engagement Team

While we have been engaging directly with a number of businesses throughout the pandemic, we have been doing so with a limited team. However we are delighted that from May 2021, our Business Engagement Team will be returning on a part-time basis to call and engage with members.

To find out how you can take full advantage of our services, use our free, online appointment booker to schedule a meeting with our Member Engagement Team.

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