The Pret Index: How sandwich sales can tell us more about changing work habits in Europe

By Kirstie McDermott

Before March 2020, large numbers of workers traveled to city centers every weekday, heading to their jobs in finance, professional services and technology.

There are around 550,000 workers in the finance-dominated sector City of London alone – or in the famous “Square Mile” – which equates to one in 56 workers in Britain.

Similarly, in the business district of Paris La Defense, 180,000 employees work in approximately 500 companies in an area that extends over more than 560 hectares, or 3.84 million m². offices and coworking spaces.

Every lunchtime, streams of these workers go out in search of food, and many of them end up in a Pret A Manger sandwich shop for a hummus salad wrap or a crispy egg salad.

The Ready Index

Founded in the UK in 1983, Pret is now an international franchise chain with operations around the world. Many of its stores are, in particular, located in financial and business districts thanks to its “follow the skyscraper” business model.

This fact came in rather handy as the pandemic began to subside, and the Loan Index was created by Bloomberg specifically because the channel is synonymous with the office lunch hour.

He started by tracking Pret’s weekly transactions against pre-pandemic levels, and he came up with some interesting findings.

Until July 14, London City and Canary Wharf accounted for 83% of their pre-COVID-19 transactions, down from a peak of 89% in May.

This agrees with Data from TFL, which revealed in February that since the lifting of restrictions on working from home on January 19, the number of people using the metro on weekdays has increased by at least 25%.

Additionally, TFL said in February that ridership was consistently around 60% of pre-pandemic levels during the week.

Stations close to financial institutions such as Canary Wharf, Mansion House and Aldgate also saw double the number of riders between 8am and 9am compared to those noted when the restrictions were in place.

people travel more

At the city’s airports, sales are also skyrocketing, which is a measure of both tourism and business travel.

Levels at Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports are 140% higher than pre-pandemic levels, in a trend that Pret said surprised him the most.

Sales are also up at stations, which exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time in April, and in July were at 101% of pre-Covid levels.

In Paris, where sales from more than 30 stores were monitored, activity returned to near-normal levels in the spring and summer of 2021, with the exception of August. However, this is when residents spend less time in the city.

This year, the channel noted that transactions had steadily increased and by mid-July 2022 were hovering around 81% of the pre-pandemic base, very close to normal.

Less teleworking in France

While most European countries, especially those with the highest GDPs, have enthusiastically embraced remote and hybrid working, France has not done so to the same extent.

A study for the French think tank Jean-Jaures Foundation of January 2022 revealed that only 29% of French workers say they work remotely “at least once a week”.

Compare that to 51% of Germans, or 42% of workers in the UK, and it’s a stark difference. In Spain the figure is 36 per cent and in Italy it reaches up to 50 per cent of workers.

And French workers who work remotely do so less than their European neighbors too. In Italy, 30% of workers said they worked remotely four to five days a week and 17% said they worked remotely for two to three days.

However, in France, these figures are 11% and 14% respectively. That’s a lot of time spent in offices – and going for a lunchtime sandwich.

The result is that in Paris and London – if Pret’s transactions are to be believed – the labor economies of both cities are recovering.

It’s also positive for anyone looking to change jobs or fast-track their careers over the next few weeks or months.

If that’s you, we’re looking at three companies that are currently hiring below, and there’s plenty more to discover at Euronews.jobs.

Talent Acquisition Specialist (m/f/d), Flink

Flink is an online supermarket that is revolutionizing the way you shop. Founded by seasoned e-commerce professionals and backed by some of Europe’s most reputable investors, it is growing rapidly and hiring a Talent Acquisition Specialist in Berlin to identify and inspire new talent.

You will control and be responsible for the entire recruitment process for a specific region, and proactively advise your internal contacts on all recruitment processes relevant to the business. You must have a first recruitment experience or experience in the fields of human resources management or customer service.

You will need to be fluent in German and also have a good knowledge of English. The role will be located in a newly renovated, spacious and dog-friendly HQ in the heart of Berlin Mitte. Learn more here.

Digital Strategy Project Manager/Senior (DigitalBCG), Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to address their biggest challenges and seize their biggest opportunities.

She works closely with her clients to adopt a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders, empowering organizations to grow, creating sustainable competitive advantage and having a positive societal impact.

In the Amsterdam-based company Role of Digital Strategy Project Manager/Senior (DigitalBCG)you’ll use your expertise and generalist consulting skills to help CEOs and their teams solve their most pressing challenges, and reflect on how digital and technology will change the shape of their business.

You will need at least eight years of consulting experience, including leading consulting teams or you will have held an industry leadership position, combined with five or more years of consulting experience. Get the full specification here.

Senior Growth Manager (Contract), Airbnb

Airbnb is a mission-driven company dedicated to helping create a world where everyone can belong anywhere. Luckey by Airbnb is one of the leading guest management marketplaces and is looking for a Network Growth Manager ensure the expansion of the Luckey partner network in France and Spain.

You will report to the Director of Growth and Business Operations. This position is based in Paris, with the possibility of telecommuting. You will analyze and support the development of the local partner’s network to achieve its ambitious objectives.

You will need eight years of experience in a sales-oriented market environment, good organizational skills and the ability to multi-task. Learn more here.

If you’re interested in a new job this year, check out Euronews.jobs, set up alerts and bookmark the link for regular check-ins.

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