CHICAGO (CBS) — With restaurants and bars closed to dine-in customers, and the governor ordering the cancellation of all gatherings of more than 50 people, businesses in the Loop say pedestrian traffic is way down in recent days.
The Chicago Loop Alliance says it has pedestrian counters along parts of State Street, Michigan Avenue, and the Pedway to track foot traffic. On Tuesday, March 17, pedestrian traffic in the Loop dropped 63% compared to one week earlier on March 10.
Loop businesses also noticed a sharp drop in foot traffic on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. On Saturday, March 14, foot traffic was down 42 percent compared to Saturday, March 14, 2019, according to the Chicago Loop Alliance.
“It is no surprise that pedestrian activity in the Loop is declining as Chicagoans heed officials’ calls for social distancing, and we expect this activity will decline even further this week with the shutdown of bars, restaurants and major retailers, as well as Chicago Public Schools,” said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “We think it’s important to connect data to these assumptions, and we will continue to monitor pedestrian counts and act as a resource.”
The Loop Alliance also said it has hired crews to thoroughly clean all street furniture, light fixtures, and other equipment on State Street — including newspaper racks, trash cans, and benches.
Although the governor ordered the shutdown of dine-in service at all Illinois restaurants this week, the Loop Alliance said downtown restaurants already had seen a considerable slowdown in business last week, in large part due to the cancellation of conferences, a drop in travel, and more people working from home. Universities with downtown campuses also have halted in-person classes, and restricted access to residence halls, meaning fewer students in the Loop.
“This is a devastating time for our entire community, but we are sticking together, and I know we’ll get through this,” said Clodagh Lawless, co-owner of The Dearborn, a Chicago Loop Alliance member. “Food, of course, is our common thread, and on Monday we brought our Dearborn family together at the restaurant so that everyone could ‘shop’ and bring home groceries for their families. It was a bittersweet but powerful moment. Our employees are our family. Our guests are our family. And family is our everything. We hope everyone remains safe and healthy, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to The Dearborn with the warmest Irish hospitality in the coming weeks.”