The general state of the economy
Over the last couple of years during the lockdowns it was evident that many shops had closed in central London. They were not closed 'for the duration', they were closed for good. They had perhaps seen the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship while they still had a few quid in the bank rather than spending it to keep open unviable businesses.
Leicester Square is a fairly horrible tourist area these days, with Irving Street leading off it to Orange Street and Charing Cross Road. It *was* populated by restaurants mainly aimed at tourists. You can check on Google Street View if you can't visit in person. I passed through there on Saturday. Many of the restaurants have closed down. It is much the same in parts of Soho - closed restaurants. Unlike some other businesses, restaurants depend on the presence of customers. Sure, there are restaurants which do takeaways. But in the main restaurants means having customers present. Elsewhere I see that in Jermyn Street and Piccadilly there are empty shops. Perhaps they too were unviable.
Offices whose staff work from home (where possible) realised this can be done if your staff and managers can get along and not just butt heads. This means companies can physically downsize offices. Hot desks, coming in to the office once a week or once every two weeks to 'show your face' rather than using Skype or whatever is not unreasonable. We remotely manage equipment at sites I've never been to, so working from home is not even a problem to solved for me. The knock on effect, though, is the cafes local to my office no longer see my custom. It may not be much, my £4-£7 a day, but that's £25 a week or so from one person. Multiply that by x dozen in our office, and those local cafes will suffer.
I am not fixated on food shops or restaurants or cafes, but I'm mentioning them as I don't think the points I make with them can be contradicted.
The commercial mortgage holders who seem intent on building high street empires are suffering, and frankly I want to see them punished - punished by losing a lot of money. They took out huge loans, based on the stupid principle that prices can only ever go up, bought some property, then hiked the rent to the tenants. Now, AC (After Covid) those tenants can't pay/won't pay/have gone away, and these mortgage holders are getting screwed. They got greedy. Note one of the points in the article about Sungard 'failing to renegotiate landlord rental rates'.
I'm an old no-beard UNIX geezer, and I was a child in the 1970s. I clearly recall the power cuts then, and I remember seeing the uncollected rubbish in the streets. Other aspects of that time that I read about later I didn't see or wasn't aware of or didn't know about. But... London even in those troubled times seemed viable. What I have seen (and am still seeing) with these closed shops in the number 1 shopping areas is a lack of viability. The Tube was busy on Saturday, things are much like they were BC (Before Covid), but something seems to have changed. Though there are lots of people around, seemingly, the number is sufficiently less than BC to render certain businesses unviable.