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Placer.ai Office Index: May 2024 Recap

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
June 5, 2024
Placer.ai Office Index: May 2024 Recap

The Placer.ai Nationwide Office Building Index: The office building index analyzes foot traffic data from some 1,000 office buildings across the country. It only includes commercial office buildings, and commercial office buildings with retail offerings on the first floor (like an office building that might include a national coffee chain on the ground floor). It does NOT include mixed-use buildings that are both residential and commercial.

With summer nearly upon us, we dove into the data to see how the return-to-office fared in May 2024. Did the post-pandemic visit recovery trajectory observed in April continue apace? And which major regional hub saw the most YoY visit growth? 

Key Takeaways

  • In May 2024, the post-pandemic year-over-five-year (Yo5Y) office visit gap held steady at 32.2%. 
  • Miami and New York continued to see the smallest visit gaps compared to pre-COVID – while Atlanta led in YoY office recovery. 
  • New York, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco offices all saw their busiest in-office month since the pandemic.
  • In Houston, severe weather prompted a precipitous decline in May office visits – with violent storms and power outages forcing many people to remain home. 

May Office Visits Hold Steady

The office recovery is still very much underway. Visits to office buildings nationwide in May 2024 were just 32.2% lower than in May 2019 – and slightly higher than they’ve been during any other month since COVID. Year-over-year (YoY), office foot traffic in May increased by 8.6%. 

Regional Round Robin

And drilling down into the data for 11 major business hubs nationwide shows recovery continuing unabated throughout (most of) the country. For New York, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, May 2024 was the single busiest in-office month since February 2020. And for Miami, Washington, D.C., and Denver, it was the second-busiest month.

Consistent with recent trends, Miami continued to lead the post-COVID recovery pack, followed by New York: Foot traffic to the two cities was just 12.8% and 17.3%, respectively, below May 2019 levels. 

But the data also contained some surprises. Atlanta, which saw the biggest YoY visit jump of any analyzed city, pulled into third place – outpacing Washington, D.C. And Houston, the only city to see a YoY decline in visits, fell significantly in the rankings. 

Houston Office Visits Impacted by Storm

Why did Houston YoY office visits drop in May? A look at weekly YoY visits to local office buildings confirms that this was likely due to the extreme weather that engulfed the city during the second half of the month. On Thursday, May 16th, Houston was hit by a particularly violent storm that caused significant damage to the downtown area – breaking windows, downing power lines, and leaving a battered city in its wake. Additional severe weather events pummeled the region as the month wore on – forcing many residents to hunker down at home. And it was when the storm hit that YoY visits began to turn negative, with the week of May 20th seeing a significant 20.0% drop. As the weather improves in the southeast Texas hub, office recovery will likely resume.

Final Thoughts

Five years after COVID upended office routines, employees and companies are still feeling out the ideal balance between WFH and in-person interaction. Will office attendance increase or decrease as the weather warms up?

Follow Placer.ai’s data-driven office analyses to find out. 

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