More of us than ever before are choosing to live in the middle of a densely-packed city centre. There are myriad reasons to do so. There are more jobs going around in the city than there are outside of it, some of them in lucrative and rewarding niches. That’s before we consider the convenience, and the access to culture and entertainment.
The confines of a city shape our lives in many ways, not least of which is the businesses we visit and use. But which sorts of business benefit the most from higher city-centre populations?
Getting from one side of a sprawling metropolis to the other isn’t always straightforward. But thanks to modern technology, we’ve access to an unprecedented number of ways of getting from A to B. Peer-to-peer ridesharing services like Uber are at their most available in an urban environment, and cities like Manchester have unveiled infrastructure spending that will cater to its ever-growing population.
One consequence of this rush toward the cities is that the cost of housing has skyrocketed. In such an environment, it’s often desirable to outsource certain functions. Why invest in a washing machine if there’s a laundromat at the bottom of your block of flats? Such businesses can offer high-quality washing machines and tumble-dryers, of the sort that wouldn’t be affordable for many budget-conscious city-centre residents.
In this way, businesses like laundromats can thrive – and as the population in a city rises, the demand for such services is set to grow, too.
Cafés & Bars
A sizeable chunk of commuters in UK cities prefer to walk to work. The more pedestrians wandering past a café or restaurant, the more of them will decide to stroll in. Fast food joints can serve larger volumes of customers, and thus they’re the most competitive. Many urban commuters would struggle to do without the convenience of a trip to Subway or Five Guys on the way back from the office. Bars and restaurants enjoy the evening foot traffic, as stressed-out office workers pour in to unwind for an hour or so before finally returning home.
But there’s one particular beneficiary of this trend, and that’s the city-centre café. Caffeine is a national habit, with Britons glugging down ninety-five million cups of coffee every day. And even other businesses, like bookshops, have infamously shifted to cater to this demand.
We should also mention a trend that’s particularly prevalent in the city. Given that the upsurge in urban population is largely driven by younger people, who are statistically more likely to be vegetarian or vegan, it’s hardly surprising that there are many ethically-minded eateries rising to meet the demand.
This year, the number of us with gym memberships finally broke ten million. A sizeable chunk of these are to be found in city centres. But increasingly, urban exercisers are turning to more exotic forms. Rock-climbing walls, martial arts classes, and niche forms of yoga are more commercially viable in city centres, for much the same reasons as niche forms of restaurant.