New figures have shown that close to two thirds of adults are now travelling to their workplaces. The Office for National Statistics said that 62 percent of adults reported that they were getting back to their workplaces, the highest proportion since the statisticians started collecting the data. That is up from 57 percent two weeks ago, in a sign that confidence is growing.
It comes months after the proportion hit a low of 36 percent in late May.
The ONS said the proportion of working adults not working from home or travelling to work has reduced from 23 percent to 18 percent, since the beginning of September.
Ministers welcomed the news as the rising numbers will help boost trade in the country’s beleaguered town and city centres.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons: “I can report to the House some numbers which might be helpful overall and say that 62 percent of workers across the country are now going back to work – that’s the highest level since the crisis began.”
In a further fillip to the economy, retail giant Next has upped its full-year earnings outlook for the second time in as many months after strong recent trading.
While full-price sales plunged 33 percent in its first half, Next said trading since the lockdown has proved resilient thanks to a strong online performance – with sales lifting four percent in the past seven weeks.
The fashion chain said it expects full-year underlying pre-tax profits of £300 million – down heavily on the £729 million the previous year, but up from the £195 million previously predicted in July.
Meanwhile, around one in 10 workers are still furloughed, according to the ONS.
This level is likely to reduce over coming weeks as the Government has started to scale back the amount of money it pays out to furloughed workers.
Companies who want to furlough their staff were forced to pick up at least 10 percent of the bill from the beginning of this month, and in October they will have to pay 20 percent.
The scheme will be removed entirely from the end of October.
The ONS data follows a survey which shows more than half of workers have said they never expect to return to a five-day working week in the office.
A new report by Talk Talk called ‘Lockdown Lessons’ also found that 58 percent of people in employment said they felt more productive as a result of working from home.