As the cost of living crisis sees prices soar, small business in Oxford are feeling the impacts.

The ‘cost of living crisis’ refers to the fall in real-terms wages due to increasing inflation, which is expected to hit 7.25 per cent in April.

Across the country people’s finances are being hit hard with the cost of fuel, energy, food and transport all rising. In Oxford specifically, people are having to contend with ZEZ charges, council tax rises, bus fare increases and car park rises.

READ MORE: Oxford MP warns of impact of rising costs on pensioners

We spoke to small business owners in Oxford, this is what they said:

Oxford Soap Company

Oxford Mail:

Owner Ervin Tomkys Valteri explained that the cost of living crisis will eventually effect his business as it sells luxury products and relies on people having “extra cash”.

In terms of how the crisis is specifically impacting people in Oxford, he feels the ZEZ is a good idea but it is the "wrong timing".

He explained: “They are making ZEZ’s before thinking how they are going to support businesses.

“For anyone who lives outside the ring road it is an absolute nightmare to visit Oxford. It is purely created for anyone who lives inside the ring road but for anyone outside it is not an attractive place to visit for the day.”

Mr Tomkys Valteri is concerned the long term impacts of ZEZ’s “absolutely will effect customers”.

He said: "The market will just be a giftshop for tourists and students rather than a market for the locals. The market is for the locals and the locals are not encouraged to come in.”

John Gowing Jewellers

Oxford Mail:

John Gowing, owner of John Gowing Jewellers which has been in the Covered Market for 50 years, said he “cannot see any positives” to the increasing costs in the city.

Mr Gowing said that while his business is not effected at the moment when receiving large deliveries he “feels” for smaller businesses and traders who are “worried” about their own deliveries.

On the matter of transport costs more generally, Mr Gowing said “we have a fantastic park and ride service and a large number of people use that”.

He added: “People will find their way around the ZEZ issue in time”.

Ducky Zebra

Oxford Mail:

Owner of Ducky Zebra Sally Dear told the Oxford Mail she is already seeing the costs of production and manufacturing for the clothes she sell rise.  

One of the main materials in Ducky Zebra’s clothing - organic cotton - has seen “huge increases”.

She said: “In terms of how it is effecting us here in the UK we do not want to increase the price of our clothes. We are conscious that people are going to be struggling.

“I do have a genuine worry with the rising cost of living that the pool of customers we will be able to target will be smaller.”

However, as the business is small she does believe she can “pivot”  how she manages it to face the crisis in ways bigger businesses are unable to.

Next Too

Oxford Mail:

Sam Mellish, owner of Next Too, feels people are already not buying “what they do not need”.

She said: “I think people in generally are going to be more conscious of what they have got to pay for.”

Out of the all the products in her shop, clothes have been hardest hit. She feels this is because while the business has “lots of lovely gifts which people will still buy for each other” the average person is not spending the same money on themselves.

However, she did say “the people who have lots of money, they are still going to come into Oxford”.

You Underwear

Oxford Mail:

Sarah Jordan, owner of underwear shop You Underwear, said: “People are having to make choices to cut back.”

As a sustainable business which uses green transport she does not feel as though her shop has been hugely impacted by fuel price increases. However, she notes supply, manufacturing and utilities costs are all going up, which alongside rents and rates is “a big cost”.


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