77 percent of downtown employees could return to office by fall, Downtown Raleigh Alliance says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sosta Cafe has been a to-go spot on East Davie Street for 15 years. Customers can grab a coffee, panini or homemade dessert.

Owner Jermone Lauck says sales are picking up thankfully.

"We went through weeks and months of nothing," Lauck said. He is impatiently waiting another business to help his bottom line.

Red Hat Headquarters is steps away from the cafe. Lauck relies heavily on office workers, the majority of whom are still working from home.

"It's like 90 percent of my business," he said.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance recognizes the need.

The DRA said sales are going up citywide every month since the start of 2021, but the business boost is not being spread across the board.

The DRA said Glenwood South is seeing 89 percent of pre-pandemic sales and the Warehouse District is 67. The numbers are lower for Fayetteville Street and Moore Square.

There are several efforts underway to help places bounce back.

Dine Out Downtown is taking place every Saturday night and on Sunday, Moore Square Market is held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

DRA also recently sent out a survey asking office employees about their return-to-work plans.

Hundreds of people are responding and a trend is emerging.

"We're seeing right now roughly 40 percent of downtown employees say they're still working from home exclusively," said Downtown Raleigh Alliance President and CEO Bill King, "When you ask them 'Well what about this summer and this fall?' the numbers move pretty dramatically towards at least being in the office part-time. So what you see is by the fall, 77 percent of downtown employees say they'll be working in their offices to some degree."

Sosta is banking on a resurgence.

"Even having employees back in the different offices, the banks, administrations, the court house - it will bring back some life in the downtown, which we need," said Lauck.

The DRA is asking downtown office employees to fill out the survey by Thursday.
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