Data on foot traffic to retail chains indicates downtown Evanston is lagging most nearby areas in recovering from the pandemic.
Placer.ai, which reports foot traffic to stores based on geolocation data from customers mobile devices, says that as of May this year foot traffic to retail chains in the downtown Evanston special service area was only 70% of the level recorded in May 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
By contrast, retail foot traffic within the larger 60201 ZIP code that includes downtown has recovered to 80% of its pre-pandemic level. And in the south Evanston 60202 ZIP code foot traffic to stores is actually slightly higher than it was before the pandemic.
Other data from Placer.ai shows that many office workers are continuing to work from home, at least a few days a week. Office visits in Chicago were down 46.8% in May 2023 compared to the same month in 2019.
That likely explains much of the difference between the performance of downtown Evanston, which pre-pandemic had a large contingent of office workers, and the 60202 ZIP code, which has relatively little office space and several shopping centers that people can drive to from home.
Data for the ZIP codes that surround Evanston show a mixed picture, ranging from full recovery to still lagging performance.
The Skokie 60077 ZIP code that includes the Westfield Old Orchard shopping center, downtown Skokie and several large office buildings along the Edens Expressway shows a foot traffic level of just 73% — nearly as severe a drop off as downtown Evanston’s.