Return of ‘uni-land’ set to boost town centre economies, reports Experian

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Students provide boost to town centre economies

As millions of students get set to return to university, businesses across the UK will be gearing up to see how they can benefit and attract a potentially new set of customers. With an average estimated individual spend of over £11,000 each year, and a combined spending power in excess of £19.7bn, the student market has a significant economic impact.

Insight provided by Experian, the global information services company, reveals  many town centres up and down the country are made up of buy-to let properties which are almost exclusively inhabited by students. These areas, dubbed ‘uni-land’, play a vital role in the economic prosperity of these towns. Following a quiet summer, the return of the student population (and their disposal income) will see many shops and leisure facilities enjoy a much needed upsurge in business.

According to ONS data, in the UK, overall student spending power has increased by over £655m during the last 10 years. And this spending power is set to continue to grow. Experian research has forecast the combined annual UK student spend figure to be approximately £20 billion by 2017.

For a number of towns, such as Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham, the imported spending power of large numbers of students strengthens the local economy significantly during term time. In Nottingham, for example, the student population has increased by almost 7,000 extra students since 2003 increasing their projected ‘uni-land’ spending power by in excess of £56m over the same time period.

The Experian insights also reveal that these ‘uni-land’ areas will see a dramatic increase in internet usage during term time. Students are prolific users of the internet, and they are also the most likely to use their smartphones to check social media and shop online compared to the national average.

Nigel Wilson, managing director, consumer insight, Experian Marketing Services, said: “Understanding the demographics and spending power within any city or town and how this changes over the course of the year is essential insight for businesses, helping them to reach the right customers at the right time.

“Retailers and consumer brands in particular can draw on this data to help them to identify the most appropriate locations for their stores and where to market particular services or offers.  People themselves also benefit through being provided with relevant information that best fits their needs.”

The insights provided by Experian come from its leading consumer classification system, Mosaic, which reflects the latest consumer and societal trends.