The Worst Shopping in Britain

The Other Place finally beats Cambridge, according to a new think tank report.

Cambridge high street new economics foundation Oxford petty cury shanghai jiao tong university shopping university ranking university ranking table whitstable world rankings

Oxford has finally beaten Cambridge in a rankings list.

Having been thrashed by Cambridge in both the QS World University Ranking table and Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Ranking table, Oxford can finally take pleasure in the fact that Cambridge came in rock bottom in a survey of 117 UK cities and towns that was conducted by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and ranks the variety of shops on high streets.

In a scathing review, the NEF described a bland homogeneity and encroaching vacant premises’ in Cambridge’s city centre, and criticised Cambridge for encouraging the trend of a ‘Clone Town Britain.’

Whitstable, a seaside town near Canterbury, was deemed best for its ‘amazing variety of independent shops.’ Cambridge scored just 11.6 out of 100 in the survey’s high street diversity index, while Whitstable got an earth shattering 92.1.

The study claims that of the 57 shops on Petty Cury, one of Cambridge’s main shopping streets, all but one are chain shops. Furthermore, it states that there are just nine types of shop in Cambridge, and over half of the shops sell clothing.

The study’s organisers point the finger towards the university, the town’s main landlords, for pushing up rents too high for independent businesses to afford.

“Cambridge is a small historic city with narrow medieval lanes, and great chunks of it have been turned into shopping malls,” said Vanessa Burkitt, who runs a family jewellers in the city and is chair of a pressure group of 100 independent shops.

“The size of the units in shopping malls and the rents charged are way beyond the means of small independent retailers,” she added.

Cambridge city authorities were less than pleased with the result, and claimed that the survey’s results are flawed, since the NEF asked its researchers to focus only on high street stores.

“Cambridge simply doesn’t have one main high street”, said the city council’s tourist chief, Emma Thornton. “What makes Cambridge unique is that we have over 21 individual shopping areas, all interconnected and of equal importance.”

David Holland, a second year Arch and Anth student from Girton, seemed equally unexcited by the result.

“I think it’s really nice that Oxford have finally won something,” he said, “they must be really pleased.”