Downtown activity in American and Canadian big cities before and after COVID-19

A new report looks at recent activity in the downtowns of American and Canadian cities compared to that of several years ago:

Activity is down quite a bit in multiple major cities.

Officials in Cleveland do not think the national study, based on cell phone data, quite lines up with what they see in their city:

City officials and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance say the U.C. Berkeley study doesn’t provide an accurate accounting. The “downtown area” in the study doesn’t match what Cleveland locals would describe as their downtown, according to maps shared with cleveland.com.

Data that the DCA publishes each month is less grim, but also doesn’t point to a full recovery.

DCA’s recovery report said there were 4.01 million visits to downtown in May, a 71% recovery compared to May 2019. Visits improved to 4.14 million in June, a 77% recovery, according to the DCA.

There is the matter of measuring this well and the matter of interpreting and using the data for particular purposes. If the consensus of researchers is that downtown activity is down in many places, what policy, economic, and social implications would this have?

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