NEW data suggesting a rise in city centre visitors has prompted some traders to raise concern and say the authority responsible needs to talk to them to get 'proper statistics'.

It comes as the city council released figures pointing to a slight increase in the percentage of city centre shop visitors with Oxford postcodes - from 44.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 to 50.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.

Data from the authority shared in December also suggested there were nearly 500,000 more visitors to the city centre between September and November 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

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Oxford Mail: Oxford traffic.Oxford traffic. (Image: Oxford Mail)
Gillian, who is owner of the Covered Market Hat Box store, said: "A couple of my customers have said it took them an hour to get in.

"The footfall they keep promoting - that's people coming in and eating. Clothing shops and butchers have gone and now we're left."

Another retailer, who wished to remain anonymous, added: "The LTNs are a nightmare.

"I live in Blackbird Leys and it takes me well over an hour to get in every morning.

Oxford Mail: Covered Market.Covered Market. (Image: Photo: Oxford Mail)

"Every year fewer and fewer people are coming in. The council sees people cutting through as footfall.

"For them to get the proper statistics they need to ask us traders."

A popular cake shop of 38 years said last month it would be closing in the Covered Market and relocating to the West Oxfordshire town of Witney due to traffic restrictions 'making it difficult for them to operate'.

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Not every business owner had a negative view of the traffic measures with Graham Macdonald from iScream Gelato saying: "We had a very busy day on the bank holiday.

Oxford Mail: Graham MacDonald.Graham MacDonald.

"I had quite a few people come in wearing their Roger Bannister medals."

Newly-elected Independent Oxford Alliance candidate for the Rose Hill & Iffley ward, David Henwood, is another sceptic of city council calculation methods.

He said: "There should be a system where businesses tell us rather than we tell them.

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"Measuring footfall by signals generated from mobile phones doesn't really give you an accurate assessment.

"It tells you who might be in Oxford but not whether they shop."

Oxford Mail: David Henwood.David Henwood.

Carfax & Jericho ward councillor Alex Hollingsworth suggested he does not believe there has been a fall in city centre footfall impacting traders.

The Labour representative added: "All the evidence is absolutely clear the vast majority of people travel to the city centre on foot by bike or bus.

"I think there is a misconception that has existed for decades that it is cars that go into shops - it's not, it's people."

Oxford Mail: Alex Hollingsworth.Alex Hollingsworth. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

A city council spokesman said: "There are no counters to assess how busy each individual shop is.

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"Each shop would need to install their own counting system to do this and duplication of visitors to multiple shops would throw up inaccuracies.

"Most cities and towns in the UK use the mobile phone counting method as it shows unique visitor counts as opposed to other forms of counting.

"It has its limitations but there is currently no better alternative, that the council is aware of."