Pandemic Recovery: Have North American Downtowns Bounced Back?
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Pandemic Recovery: Have North American Downtowns Bounced Back?

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Pandemic Recovery: Have Downtowns Bounced Back?

As we continue on our journey towards recovery from the impacts of the pandemic, North American offices that sat empty for months have started to welcome back in-person workers.

This small step towards normalcy has sparked questions around the future of office life—will office culture eventually bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, or is remote work here to stay?

It’s impossible to predict the future, but one way to gauge the current state of office life is by looking at foot traffic across city centers in North America. This graphic measures just that, using data from Avison Young.

Change in Downtown Office Traffic

According to the data, which measures foot traffic in major office buildings in 23 different metropolitan hubs across North America, remains drastically below pre-pandemic levels.

Across all major cities included in the index, average weekday visitor volume has fallen by 73.7% since the early months of 2020. Here’s a look at each individual city’s change in foot traffic, from March 2, 2020 to Oct 11, 2021:

CityCountryChange in Foot Traffic
Austin🇺🇸-51.70%
Calgary🇨🇦-54.50%
Boston🇺🇸-54.90%
New York🇺🇸-60.50%
San Francisco🇺🇸-60.80%
Edmonton🇨🇦-62.20%
Houston🇺🇸-67.90%
Chicago🇺🇸-68.10%
Vancouver🇨🇦-68.20%
Los Angeles🇺🇸-68.60%
Philadelphia🇺🇸-69.00%
Washington, DC🇺🇸-69.40%
San Francisco Peninsula🇺🇸-70.00%
Denver🇺🇸-73.50%
Nashville🇺🇸-75.60%
East Bay/Oakland🇺🇸-76.10%
Atlanta🇺🇸-77.50%
Dallas🇺🇸-79.80%
Montreal🇨🇦-80.30%
Toronto🇨🇦-81.20%
Miami🇺🇸-82.20%
Silicon Valley🇺🇸-82.60%
Ottawa🇨🇦-87.70%

The Canadian city of Calgary is a somewhat unique case. On one hand, foot traffic has bounced back stronger than many other downtowns across North America. On the other hand, the city has one of the highest commercial vacancy rates in North America, and there are existential questions about what comes next for the city.

Interestingly, a number of cities with a high proportion of tech jobs, such as Austin, Boston, and San Francisco bounced back the strongest post-pandemic. Of course, there is one noteworthy exception to that rule.

A Tale of Two Cities

Silicon Valley has experienced one of the most significant drops in foot traffic, at -82.6%. Tech as an industry has seen one of the largest increases in remote work, as Bay Area workers look to escape high commuter traffic and high living expenses. A recent survey found that 53% of tech workers in the region said they are considering moving, with housing costs being the primary reason most respondents cited.

Meanwhile, in a very different part of North America, another city is experienced a sluggish rebound in foot traffic, but for very different reasons. Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is facing empty streets and struggling small businesses that rely on the droves of government workers that used to commute to downtown offices. Unlike Silicon Valley, where tech workers are taking advantage of flexible work options, many federal workers in Ottawa are still working from home without a clear plan on returning to the workplace.

It’s also worth noting that these two cities are home to a lot of single-occupant office buildings, which is a focus of this data set.

Some Businesses Remain Hopeful

Despite a slow return to office life, some employers are snapping up commercial office space in preparation for a potential mass return to the office.

Back in March 2021, Google announced it was planning to spend over $7 billion on U.S. office space and data centers. The tech giant held true to its promise—in September, Google purchased a Manhattan commercial building for $2.1 billion.

Other tech companies like Alphabet and Facebook have also been growing their office spaces throughout the pandemic. In August 2021, Amazon leased new office space in six major U.S. cities, and in September 2020, Facebook bought a 400,000 square foot complex in Bellevue, Washington.

Will More Employees Return or Stay Remote?

It’s important to note that we’re still in the midst of pandemic recovery, which means the jury’s still out on what our post-pandemic world will look like.

Will different cities and industries eventually recover in different ways, or are we approaching the realities of “new normal” foot traffic in North American city centers?

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Technology

Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

In this visualization, we rank the top 50 websites that receive the most internet traffic, from Google to CNN.

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Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

Estimates vary, but there are upwards of two billion websites in existence in 2023.

If we were to rank all of these websites according to their traffic numbers, we would see a classic power law distribution. At the low end, the vast majority of these websites would be inactive, receiving little to no traffic. On the upper end of the ranking though, a handful of websites receive the lion’s share of internet traffic.

This visualization, using data from SimilarWeb, takes a look at the 50 websites that currently sit at the top of the ranking.

Which Websites Get the Most Traffic?

Topping the list of most-visited websites in the world is, of course, Google. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google has cemented its position as the go-to source for information on the internet. But Google’s dominance doesn’t stop there. The company also owns YouTube, the second-most popular website in the world. Together, Google and YouTube have more traffic than the next 48 websites combined.

The power of YouTube, in particular, is sometimes not fully understood. The video platform is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. As well, YouTube has the second highest duration-of-visit numbers in this top 50 ranking. (First place goes to the Chinese video sharing website, Bilibili.)

But Google and YouTube aren’t the only big players on the internet. Other websites in the top 50 ranking include social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. In particular, TikTok has seen a surge in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.

Here’s the full top 50 ranking table form:

RankWebsiteMonthly TrafficCategoryCountry
#1google.com85.1BSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#2youtube.com33.0BStreaming & Online TV🇺🇸 U.S.
#3facebook.com17.8BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#4twitter.com6.8BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#5instagram.com6.1BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#6baidu.com5.0BSearch Engines🇨🇳 China
#7wikipedia.org4.8BDictionaries & Encyclopedias🇺🇸 U.S.
#8yandex.ru3.4BSearch Engines🇷🇺 Russia
#9yahoo.com3.3BNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#10whatsapp.com2.9BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#11xvideo.com2.8BAdult🇨🇿 Czechia
#12amazon.com2.6BMarketplace🇺🇸 U.S.
#13pornhub.com2.5BAdult🇨🇦 Canada
#14xnxx.com2.3BAdult🇫🇷 France
#15live.com2.1BEmail🇺🇸 U.S.
#16yahoo.co.jp2.1BNews & Media Publishers🇯🇵 Japan
#17netflix.com2.0BStreaming & Online TV🇺🇸 U.S.
#18tiktok.com1.8BSocial Media Networks🇨🇳 China
#19docomo.ne.jp1.8BTelecommunications🇯🇵 Japan
#20reddit.com1.7BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#21office.com1.6BProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#22linkedin.com1.6BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#23dzen.ru1.4BFaith & Beliefs🇷🇺 Russia
#24samsung.com1.4BConsumer Electronics🇰🇷 S. Korea
#25vk.com1.4BSocial Media Networks🇷🇺 Russia
#26xhamster.com1.3BAdult🇨🇾 Cyprus
#27turbopages.org1.3BNews & Media Publishers🇷🇺 Russia
#28mail.ru1.2BEmail🇷🇺 Russia
#29naver.com1.2BNews & Media Publishers🇰🇷 S. Korea
#30bing.com1.2BSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#31microsoftonline.com1.1BProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#32discord.com1.1BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#33twitch.tv1.1BGaming & Accessories🇺🇸 U.S.
#34bilibili.com1.0BAnimations & Comics🇨🇳 China
#35pinterest.com1.0BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#36zoom.us985.9MComputers Electronics & Tech🇺🇸 U.S.
#37weather.com985.7MWeather🇺🇸 U.S.
#38qq.com907.1MNews & Media Publishers🇨🇳 China
#39microsoft.com902.3MProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#40msn.com870.8MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#41globo.com840.1MNews & Media Publishers🇧🇷 Brazil
#42duckduckgo.com839.0MSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#43roblox.com795.7MGaming & Accessories🇺🇸 U.S.
#44quora.com775.9MDictionaries & Encyclopedias🇺🇸 U.S.
#45news.yahoo.co.jp749.1MNews & Media Publishers🇯🇵 Japan
#46ebay.com728.0MMarketplace🇺🇸 U.S.
#47aajtak.in724.1MNews & Media Publishers🇮🇳 India
#48nytimes.com702.2MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#49realsrv.com688.0MAdult🇺🇸 U.S.
#50cnn.com684.9MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.

Notable companies that have fallen out of the top 50 since our last version of this visualization are Walmart and PayPal. Notable entrants into the top 50 are Samsung and the New York Times.

The Geography of the 50 Most-Visited Websites

The United States is still home base for many of the world’s biggest websites, taking up 30 spots on this ranking. Of these 30 websites, half are operated by Big Tech companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Netflix.

Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea round out the top five.

Top 50 Websites by country
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Things get interesting in the “other” category, which includes six websites. Two spots are taken up by Aaj Tak and Globo, which are large media publications in India and Brazil, respectively.

The remaining four websites—XVideos, PornHub, XHamster, and XNXX—specialize in adult content, and are located in a variety of countries. These are often referred to as “tube sites” since they are built on the YouTube model.

Realsrv, the only adult-oriented site in the top 50 located in the U.S., is interesting to delve into as well, since it’s far from a household name. The website essentially supports advertising efforts by redirecting users away from the content they were viewing over to another page (generally premium adult content). This is one of the key ways that adult websites earn revenue.

Where does this data come from?

Source: SimilarWeb

Notes: Websites listed include “all meaningful subdomains”, and categories in the graphic follow SimilarWeb’s categorization system. This is the third version of this graphic. As with previous versions, we aim to use data from November for the sake of consistency and to avoid seasonal fluctuations in traffic. One important detail to point out is that website traffic does not include app traffic, which is why popular platforms like WeChat don’t appear in this ranking.

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