More locals than ever are visiting Oxford City Centre

More locals than ever are visiting Oxford City Centre
Photo by Samuel Isaacs / Unsplash

Oxford remains a destination city, but local visitors are steadily increasing, latest figures released by Oxford City Council show.  

The Clarion reported on Oxford's footfall increase bucking the national trends earlier this year. Oxford city centre dramatically outperformed the rest of the UK in terms of footfall over the prior four months, containing the crucial Christmas and January shopping periods.

Graph showing footfall changes by month vs prior year. Data sources: Oxford City Council, British Retail Consortium.

Speculation on social media has centred around Broad Street, where in 2021, some parking spaces were removed and traffic restricted. Wooden planters and seating were added to create an experimental ‘Broad Meadow’, which has now developed into a permanent scheme. One commonly heard argument against this has been that the changes are tourist-focused and that fewer local people are visiting Oxford city centre.

Data released by Oxford City Council in response to a Freedom of Information Act request shows that while Oxford remains a destination city for UK visitors, local visitors have been steadily increasing since the council started monitoring this.

Oxford’s retail offer is constantly changing. As more people shop online, the city centre has become a leisure destination as well as a retail destination – with the transformation of Boswells into the Store Hotel perhaps the emblematic example of this. But these are national challenges, and the figures show not only that the city is navigating these challenging waters better than most, but that it is doing so while retaining its appeal to local residents.