Pret triangle sandwich

Wall Street’s Office Ranks Thin Amid Omicron’s Spread

The spread of the omicron subvariant throughout New York City is stalling Wall Street’s already sluggish return to the office, based on Pret A Manger Ltd’s coffee and sandwich sales in the financial district.

Bloomberg’s Pret Index shows that the chain’s transactions last week in the cluster that includes the head offices of firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. were the lowest since February. That’s as the seven-day average of new cases in New York reached the highest level since late January. Hospitalizations have also increased albeit by a smaller amount.

Pret’s sales in downtown New York are back to less than half of what they were before the pandemic. Meanwhile, the chain’s business in London’s City and Canary Wharf financial districts has recovered twice as fast and is almost back to normal, with only Mondays and Fridays noticeably slower than other days of the week.

Whether sales ever return to full strength in New York is yet to be determined, especially as some Wall Street titans, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, now seem resigned to allowing at least some hybrid work. Pret has recently prioritized growth in suburban and regional areas as CEO Pano Christou anticipates most employers will permanently offer hybrid home-and-office working arrangements to employees.

Bloomberg is monitoring Pret’s transactions each week for the latest in this glimpse at the pandemic recovery. Click here for details on the methodology.

Pret coffee

Sales in London’s entertainment and shopping district are back above pre-pandemic levels.

Pret’s business in London’s airport terminals are approaching a pandemic high set in April. The chain is opening a new store at Heathrow in the coming weeks as business and leisure travel roars back.

Sales in the cluster that includes Wall Street and Tribeca still show that a full recovery is lagging months behind London’s financial districts.

Transactions in New York’s Midtown entertainment and business district also fell last week amid the spread of the omicron subvariant. As in Downtown, they’re the lowest since February.

Pret’s business in Paris is approaching a pandemic high set in March. Transactions in France’s capital are almost back to normal.

Pret wrap sandwich

Pret sales in London’s suburbs are about a quarter higher than they were before Covid, as more people work from home for part of the week.

Pret’s transactions in London train stations are hovering around pre-crisis levels.

Transactions in Hong Kong are at the highest level they’ve been since January as the city recovers from a surge in cases in the spring.

Pret sandwich

As people look for signs that the world is getting back to normal, Pret is providing weekly data to Bloomberg about its sales across major business hubs on an exclusive basis. The figures give a global perspective on whether demand for breakfast and lunch items is returning to shopping centers, financial districts and airports.

The Pret Index is calculated against a baseline from January 2020, before the pandemic upended the cities tracked, and compares transaction data starting from March 8 against the average from that month. Every point (.01) on the index represents 1% progress toward returning to those January 2020 levels.

Sandwich sales are an imperfect measure, but the figures compiled by Pret provide at least one real-time gauge of the cities’ recovery.