In 2015 we were appointed by Sheffield City Council to evidence the value of Sheffield's Outdoor Economy. The purpose of this study was to objectively assess whether Sheffield offered something distinctive in terms of outdoor recreation and, if so, to build the evidence base on which to position the development and branding of Sheffield as 'The Outdoor City'.
Data collection and analysis
This study utilised a mixed methods approach to audit assets and usage across several other comparable cities (including Strava data, heat maps, parkrun and climbing data), analyse participation data and explore the significance of Sheffield icons as part of the local outdoor proposition. Sheffield's outdoor recreation provision was assessed in terms of trade, talent and tourism.
Our team of economists used the National Income Accounting framework to calculate key economic metrics to illustrate the size and potential of Sheffield's outdoor sector. Sheffield has higher than average participation and therefore generates higher consumer spend on 'trips and gear' (£93 million). Household expenditure on outdoor equipment is over three times the national average. Outdoor-related Gross Value Added (GVA) is estimated to be £53 million, over £96 per head of population. These figures were used to underpin the business case for promoting Sheffield as The Outdoor City.
Local and public consultation
Our state-of-the-art online software was used to host a survey exploring the role and importance of outdoor recreation to the local population. Over 2,000 people completed this survey and shared their thoughts and aspirations for the future of Sheffield's outdoor sector.
Reporting and dissemination
The research findings supported the development of the Outdoor City brand, informed an economic strategy for the city and helped Sheffield to position itself to attract funding to further develop its status as an outdoor recreation destination for visitors and an outdoor haven for locals.