How can the RRD website help you?
The primary purpose of Retail Research Data website is to enable insight and store location analysts working in retail organisations to get easy access to free datasets which may be of value to their businesses. The 'Mapping' tab also enables users to view some of the datasets using an easily navigable interface: this also makes provision for postcode search and loading external URLs. We also use the website in some of our research training activities at University College London.
Which useful datasets are now freely available?
The Government's Open Data policy is resulting in thousands of datasets becoming freely available - but through a maze of weblinks. Others are available from academic research, much of which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, although few retailers have hitherto used its Economic and Social Data Service (http://www.esds.ac.uk/).
Some of the data that we think are of particular value to retailers are assembled here in an easily accessible 'one stop shop'. The data fall under the following six categories:
1. Small area geodemographic classifications - such as the Output Area Classification (OAC)
2. Small area statistics - particularly from the Census, on many topics
3. Lists of addresses, with postcodes, and places
4. Postcode directories - for linking postcoded addresses (including customer records) to Output Areas and other geographical areas, or to grid references for mapping
5. Map data - digital boundaries (such as Output Areas), and also background mapping
6. Sample surveys - giving lots of detail about particular topics
RRD also includes a mapping facility to view the Classifications and Small Area Statistics for the United Kingdom and its constituent countries.
Are the data good enough for your project?
As well as providing easy access to the data, the RRD site also points you to metadata ("data about data") which tell you vital information about the dataset such as the geographical coverage (just England, Great Britain, or the whole UK?), the definitions used, when it was published, warnings about quality, etc.
Before you start: A quick explanation of geography - postcodes, Output Areas, Super Output Areas.
Open Data and Public Sector Information Glossary Pilot (provided by The National Archives)
(for information about this glossary please visit http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/appsi/open-data-psi-glossary-pilot.htm)