Consumer Data Research Centre

The Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) is a Big Data initiative run jointly between University College London (UCL) and the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool and Oxford. Over five years, it aims to provide the focus for ESRC's interests in the retail sector and its commitment to capacity building in relation to big data. The CDRC is designed to preserve data that will provide retailers and academics alike with insights into medium and longer-term trends within an industry that is undergoing rapid and dynamic change.

The Centre seeks to open up consumer data resources and focuses on ways in which value can be extracted from new sources of data to benefit researchers in business, government and society at large.

Oxford's primary contribution to the project lies in the provision of capacity-building activity through building awareness of these resources with stakeholders, developing and supporting events, workshops and training. An annual CDRC conference will provide a forum for academics and their students to network with retailers and devise shared projects grounded in knowledge exchange.


  • To provide services to enable research access to business data that will provide safe and secure access for researchers to work on the data and will have the technical infrastructure to deliver a national open and secure service through a three-tier data system.
  • To collaborate with data owners and encourage the participation of further data owners through active engagement with retailers and other customer focused organisations.
  • To act as a centre of expertise in consumer data and to harness the potential of consumer-related Big Data.
  • To conduct and stimulate an original programme of research using the data made available, and explore ways to improve access to analysis of data, as well as opportunities for data linkage.
  • To develop a programme of knowledge exchange that will facilitate the exchange of skills, knowledge and technologies between the research base and practitioners/research users to realise the opportunities closer partnership and collaboration can bring.
  • To develop a programme to build capacity and capability in data analytics, within both the commercial and academic sectors.

Research outputs

Reynolds, J. & A.D. Treadgold, (2016), Navigating the New Retail Landscape, Oxford University Press.


Other research outputs

The Changing Geography of Retail Places
Researchers: Jonathan Reynolds and Wojciech Piotrowicz, University of Oxford

The future vitality and viability of the UK’s High Streets have attracted considerable attention over the last few years. However, much of this attention – not least recent policy-making in this area - has been based on rhetoric and anecdotal evidence rather than data-driven reality. This project analysed the ways in which the retail mix of over 150,000 shops across 1,300 UK High Streets has changed over the past two years, as well as over the past thirty - using research previously conducted in Oxford. Our findings identified the effects of online retailing, the growth in value outlets and the proliferation of consumer service businesses. 
Partner: Local Data Company

Mapping Retail Sector Business Rate Inequalities
Researchers: Alex Singleton, University of Liverpool

This project examines geographic variation in business rates between retail centres of England and Wales, examining differences emerging within regions and also by composite retail function. The project is conducted in partnership with the Local Data Company (LDC) provides evidence that may be useful in reconfiguring future rates in order to serve issues of regional vitality and the economic health of town centres.
Partner: Local Data Company

E-resilience of UK town centres
Researchers: Les Dolega and Alex Singleton, University of Liverpool

The concept of resilience has attracted the attention of increasing numbers of social scientists from a wide range of disciplines to help describe the impacts and response to disruptions and more gradual processes of change. The rapid growth of online sales have impacted UK retail centres in complex ways and can be viewed as a source of long-term change to their structure, referred to as a 'slow burn'. However, these issues are difficult to measure as they are complex and multidimensional.
Partner: Local Data Company