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Google Data Shows Australians CBDs Are Ghost Towns

Record high case numbers, mass staff shortages, close contacts forced to self-isolate, and a general wave of fear due to the latest variant have all resulted in Australian CBDs becoming ghost towns.

The latest data collated by Google, which tracks movement through apps such as Google Maps, found the number of people in Sydney CBD stores is down 49 per cent from the pre-pandemic baseline. The number of workers in businesses is both 31 per cent.

Visits to restaurants, cafes, shopping centres and entertainment venues fell 49 per cent from the baseline in Sydney, 50 per cent in Melbourne, 42 per cent in ­Adelaide, 38 per cent in Perth, and 21 per cent in Brisbane.

Public transport use has fallen by close to half across every capital city.

Supermarkets and pharmacy traffic fell 35 per cent in Sydney, 26 per cent in Melbourne, 13 per cent in Perth, 5 per cent in Brisbane.

Surprisingly, these rose 6 per cent in Adelaide.

Workplace attendance fell 31 per cent in Sydney, 17 per cent in Melbourne, 15 per cent in Brisbane, 5 per cent in Adelaide – and rose 16 per cent in Perth.

“With each wave more and more people adjust to not going into the CBD and it becomes more of a structural change rather than a temporary change,” explained AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver.

“We have got to this point because technology has allowed us to. It was always going to happen but it may have taken a decade or more. Now because of Covid it’s taken a couple of years.

“CBDs won’t become ghost towns but in time if staff continue to work from home businesses will have to give up office space and there will be an adjustment made and leftover office space will be converted into apartments, but that will take years.”

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