DENVER (KDVR) — It isn’t just day trippers who aren’t coming back downtown, it’s businesses too.

Since the pandemic, foot traffic has plummeted in urban cores across the country. Residents fled crowded areas and failed to return as remote work options blossomed. Denver is a case example.

research team at the University of California, Berkeley analyzed the amount of cell phone activity in a given area as a proxy for foot traffic. They compared stretches of time since the pandemic to the same stretches of time before the pandemic began. Between September and November 2022, Denver’s downtown only saw 59% of the activity it had during the same period in 2019.

Offices have stayed empty as well, according to figures from the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Denver’s office vacancy rate has spiked since the beginning of the COVID pandemic and it has only risen as the pandemic’s lockdowns ended.

In the first quarter of 2020, Denver’s office vacancy rate was at a nearly three-year low of 11.5%. In the first quarter of this year, the vacancy rate had risen to 21.6%, which is a six-year record high.

Estimates vary with the source, but Denver’s office vacancy rates are among the nation’s highest in one report.

According to CommercialEdge, Denver had the fifth-highest office vacancy rate among large U.S. metros behind San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston.