Oxford and Cambridge’s consumer sectors boosted by employment performance

The famous university towns of Cambridge and Oxford boast two of the best-performing consumer sectors in the UK, according to new research which also predicted a bright future for the cities in the coming months.

Produced by national law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), the Consumer Powerhouse special report provides an estimate of GVA* growth and job creation within key cities across the UK with a specific focus on the retail, leisure, tourism and food and drink industries.

Published this month, the report revealed that employment in Oxford’s consumer sector grew by 2.8% in Q4 2017, with the growth being the fourth best recorded in the UK across the period. Cambridge followed just two places behind in sixth after the workforce in its consumer sector rose by 2.6%.

While both cities were also positioned in the top 15 cities for GVA growth in Q4 2017, there was less good news for neighbouring Milton Keynes. The location recorded GVA growth of just 0.9% in the quarter and also came bottom in terms of employment with a rate of -2.7%.


Five fastest and slowest expanding cities by year-on-year consumer sector employment growth in Q4 2017

Source: Office for National Statistics, Cebr analysis


Looking ahead, the report forecast that both Oxford and Cambridge would see further rises in their employment growth level in the consumer sector across Q4 2018. While Milton Keynes is predicted to see a rise in its GVA growth this year, its employment performance is only expected to slightly improve.

Victoria Brackett, CEO of Irwin Mitchell’s Business Legal Services division, said: “Our latest report makes very good reading for the UK’s most famous university towns. Both Oxford and Cambridge are not only experiencing growth in the consumer sector, but in other industries too, which in turn will be driving consumer spending.

“In Cambridge in particular, several housing developments built in the past few years mean the city has capacity to house more people, including those who come looking for work in the city’s booming life science and tech sectors.

“The report also notes how Oxford is the city with the most open space which can be used for active leisure, and also dedicated active leisure facilities. Tourists and residents alike can use these spaces to take part in group activities and sports.”

Download the report here

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