April 12, 2021

Londoners can’t wait to get back into town but want to take care of how they do it

Whether it’s a visit to the National Gallery or a take-away on their way home from the pub, Londoners can’t wait to share the delights of the capital – in all their forms – as lockdown lifts, but are going to be careful about they do it, according to an Addison Lee survey.

According to the research, conducted for Addison Lee’s ‘ALmost There’ marketing campaign:

  • Londoners’ most eagerly awaited post-lockdown pleasures are shared experiences, with 58% of residents looking forward to visiting a restaurant again
  • The place they’re most excited about visiting again is Covent Garden – 33% of Londoners named the district as their preferred destination after April 12
  • There’s a desire to enjoy traditional Central London days out, with 30% wanting to visit museums and exhibitions
  • Many Londoners are eager to get back to the capital’s guiltier pleasures, with 28% of residents missing fast food on the way home after a night out
  • The #1 experience Londoners most missed about trips into town is window-shopping and trying clothes on, with 33% wanting to update their wardrobe in person after the last year
  • Despite confidence that London will recover, 67% of respondents will be more cautious when returning to the centre of town

Wesley Bishop, Addison Lee’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “After a year where much of the city has been closed, our research shows that Londoners are nostalgic for all sorts of quintessentially London experiences and want to get out and support the capital and enjoy everything it has to offer. At the same time, people want measures in place and means of transport to make them feel secure, which we believe Addison Lee, with its Safer Journey Initiative, is ideally placed to offer.” 

Sharing is caring as Londoners look forward to life after lockdown

Addison Lee’s research shows that shared experiences are what Londoners are looking forward to most of all. As well as a trip to a restaurant, 42% of respondents say coffee or brunch with friends is eagerly anticipated, while 38% are looking forward to a group picnic.

Unsurprisingly, a trip to a pub is hotly anticipated, with 34% of Londoners putting this on their wishlist.

Bright lights, big city: Londoners to become tourists in their own town 

Where Londoners once used crowds of visitors as an excuse to avoid traditional tourist traps, there is a new desire to visit the iconic landmarks and experiences that have been out of reach for the last 12 months.

Over a third (34%) of people revealed they are looking forward to days out in London with the family, while 30% long to visit London’s museums and exhibitions, and over a quarter (26%) are keen to take in a show at the theatre.

The top places that people wanted to visit were Central London’s most iconic neighbourhoods, suggesting the emptiness of the capital’s streets will be replaced by buzz and bustle as London roars back into life over the summer.

In order of popularity:

  1. Covent Garden (33%)
  2. Camden (27%)
  3. Soho (23%)
  4. Leicester Square (23%)
  5. The West End (22%)

With 58% of Londoners looking forward to eating out at restaurants, 37% craving a shopping excursion, and 31% keen to browse independent shops, businesses can take comfort in the knowledge that residents of the city will be flocking back in droves to make the most of everything they’ve missed.

Fancy a fry-up: Londoners’ guilty pleasures

After a year spent indoors, a combination of novelty and nostalgia has led Londoners to crave the quirks of ‘London life’ that they never thought they would miss. Over a quarter (26%) of Londoners miss the crowds of tourists in Central London, while 1 in 5 (20%) long for greasy fried breakfasts in cafes or squeezing into packed out pubs (21%).

Lunches from street food stalls (19%) is another popular guilty pleasure missed by Londoners – while a small minority of Londoners even pine for disastrous dating experiences – with 6% keen to go on disappointing Tinder dates again.

People are even feeling a strong sense of nostalgia for London’s transport network – which is seen by many as the facilitator for adventure, escape, fun and freedom. 14% can’t wait to chat to their Addison Lee driver on the way home, while 1 in 10 look forward to drinking canned cocktails on the train after work.

The pandemic paradox

Despite the strong appetite to get out and pick up where they left off, there are several signs of underlying anxiety amongst Londoners that are likely to persist for some time.

67% of Londoners say they will be more cautious the next time they go in town, with 39% not yet feeling comfortable enough to take the tube.

61% of Londoners admit that they would be more likely to use services or visit somewhere that they considered Covid secure, demonstrating the importance of having a robust system in place to protect people as the city opens again.

In 2020, Addison Lee introduced the Safer Journey Initiative, a range of measures designed to protect passengers and drivers during the pandemic. This included the installation of partition screens across its standard fleet, regular provision of PPE for drivers and deep cleaning of vehicles with a solution that eradicated 99.99% of germs.

Wesley Bishop continued: “It’s encouraging that so many Londoners want to come back to their amazing city and all its delights, and as a transport business that has served London for the last 45 years, we’re looking forward to helping them get there safely.”