Oxford’s footfall bucks national trend for 12th month in a row

Oxford’s footfall bucks national trend for 12th month in a row
Credit unsplash, Tim Bechervaise

Oxford’s visitor numbers continue to outperform the UK average, according to latest footfall figures obtained by the Oxford Clarion.

We compared Oxford city footfall data to figures reported by the British Retail Consortium representing the national picture – both for UK footfall in general, and High Street footfall specifically. On each measure, for 12 consecutive months, Oxford has outperformed the UK average.

Footfall from OX postcodes increased in the first quarter of 2024 compared to prior quarters. Oxfordshire visitors now account for 50.8% of visitors to the city – suggesting that while Oxford is still a “destination” city attracting visitors from beyond Oxfordshire, local visitors are increasingly choosing Oxford as a place to visit.

The data, obtained by the Oxford Clarion via an FOI request to Oxford City Council, was sourced via Huq Industries,and is collected via mobile phone data locators.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium,  commented on the UK picture saying:

UK footfall declined in May, as bank holidays and improving weather failed to entice customers to make in person trips to shopping destinations. All locations did improve on the previous month while Birmingham performed best out of the major cities, showing a positive footfall trend. Retailers will be hopeful that a warm summer, coupled with events such as the European Championships and Olympics, will boost footfall across all major shopping destinations across the UK.

Political parties have a role to play too by having policies that mean retailers can invest in rejuvenating shopping destinations across the UK. A broken business rates system and outdated planning laws are holding back the industry - politicians of all stripes must address these issues. This will boost economic growth, lift consumer spirits, and help drive more shoppers back to our high streets and other retail destinations.”

Oxford City Council has invested in city centre improvements, including upgrading the area around the Covered Market, in a bid to improve the visitor experience. This will be celebrated with a Street Party on 25 July where the Lord Mayor will welcome residents with activities including balloon modelling, arts and crafts and live jazz.

Oxford's footfall has trended up since January 2022 which marked the end of the Coronavirus lockdowns – but it remains to be seen if these measures can repeat or improve on its 2023 summer peak again in 2024.

Labour councillor and Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for Business, Culture & an Inclusive Economy, Alex Hollingsworth commented:

“It’s encouraging to see that Oxford city centre continues to be a popular destination and I'm particularly happy to see the percentage of people from local postcodes increase.  Nationally, we know there has been a decline in high street footfall, but Oxford’s continued popularity is a promising sign that our ongoing efforts and collaboration with local stakeholders is making a difference. In the last few months alone we’ve seen the trial of pedestrian-friendly changes on Market Street begin, the Covered Market host both Oxford Folk Festival and Comedy Festival and worked with Oxfordshire County Council and the bus companies to extend the combined Park & Ride ticket offer and pricing, making it easier and cheaper to travel in and out of the city centre.  With the planned redevelopment of the Covered Market and other exciting initiatives in the works, I’m confident the city will remain a vibrant and thriving place for locals and visitors.”

Councillor Emily Kerr, Green Party Councillor for St Mary's ward commented :

I am delighted to see that Oxford is yet again bucking the national trend for footfall. We know this mobile-phone generated data is accurate and it reflects what we are seeing on the ground, Oxford city is a great place for visitors and locals alike to visit.  With the increased city centre pedestrianisation and new Covered Market I expect Oxford to continue to grow from strength to strength.