PATH merchants in Toronto are reuniting with their clientele
According to the firm Avison Young, pedestrian traffic in downtown Toronto increased by 11% at the end of the end of November compared to the same time in 2021.
Businesses in Toronto's PATH underground network are seeing an increase in foot traffic thanks to the return of certain office tower employees.
A year after the wave of the Omicron variant, office tower workers seem to be back in downtown Toronto. Very good news for merchants in the PATH underground network, who depend on this clientele.
It really feels good. We see an increase in traffic in the PATH, says the co-founder of the Hestia café, Simon Poulin.
“Even if the office are not at maximum capacity, our sales are better than before the pandemic. »
— Simon Poulin, co-founder of Hestia Café
Opened in 2018, his café is located in the PATH in Toronto and had to temporarily close twice during the pandemic.
< p class="e-p">About 95% of our customers are PATH workers, so if there are no workers in the office towers, we have no customers, he says. During the pandemic, we were making between 5 and 10% of our usual sales.
Simon Poulin is the co-founder of the Hestia café, located in the PATH network in Toronto.
< p class="e-p">Real estate developer Avison Young's Vice President Eric Berard says foot traffic in the underground network has increased throughout 2022, matching tower workers returning to the office .
And he expects this trend to continue in 2023, if the pandemic remains under control, which makes many PATH traders happy.
Mona Alfaro is the owner of Nosh and Go, a fresh yogurt store on the PATH. It opened in July 2019 and eight months later the pandemic forced it to close the business.
We decided to reopen in April 2022 and it doesn' There was hardly anyone passing, she said.
Mona Alfaro is the owner of Nosh and Go, a fresh yogurt store in the PATH network.
His sales have since increased, especially in the middle of the week.
From Tuesday to Thursday, there are a lot of people passing by. There are fewer Mondays and Fridays, however, due to teleworking, explains Ms. Alfaro, who says she is relieved to see this trend.
She was hoping to be able to open another branch of Nosh and Go, but the project is still on hold for the moment.
Jesse Panchenko, the manager of the T. Kettle business in the PATH, estimates that sales of the business have certainly increased in the past few weeks, especially due to the holiday season.
“We have seen an increase in people returning to office towers. ”
—Jesse Panchenko, Manager of T. Kettle in the PATH
I think people now realize that businesses are open in the PATH and they will come back see us, she says.
And according to Mr. Berard of Avison Young, businesses in the PATH network will see an increase in foot traffic this holiday season, in part due to falling temperatures.
Although several businesses are seeing the return of office workers to the PATH, urban planner Eric Turcotte indicates that the answers to the questions of face-to-face work are not yet entirely clear.
There may still be changes within companies to decide how much office space they really need in the long term, he explains.
“It is debatable whether there will be a readjustment to the PATH in the long term, to include more services for residents, for example.
— Eric Turcotte, urban planner, Urban Strategies in Toronto
Adds that it is possible that businesses in the underground network will change to meet the need for a residential customers rather than office workers.
Toronto's PATH underground network has over 1200 businesses according to the City of Toronto.
There's a lot of residential construction going on downtown, and the needs of residents aren't quite the same as the needs of employees in office towers, notes the planner.
However, he notes that downtown Toronto is in good health in a North American context.
This is a trend confirmed by Mr. Avison Young's Berard, who reports that by the end of November, pedestrian traffic in downtown had increased by 11% compared to the same time in 2021.
For his part, Simon Poulin believes that a change in the type of clientele in PATH would be positive for his business, since residents are a stable clientele.
Hestia Café has resumed a more satisfying activity for its owner.
More than anything, he is eager to continue moving forward in his expansion plans.
We have just signed a lease in the Eaton Center for the opening of a new café in May 2023 and we are in negotiations for a second lease in the Telus tower in downtown Toronto,” he explains.
He is especially happy to finally be able to look to the future.
It's an indescribable feeling, he says. It is a feeling of pure happiness. Entrepreneurs, we live from our passions and our dreams and these passions have been put on hold for two years. Finally, now we can still dream. It doesn't get better than that.