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Google’s Impact in Leeds 2020

Key Facts

  1. In 2020, Google’s core search and advertising tools helped support an estimated £508 million in economic activity for over 5,200 businesses in Leeds.

  2. Over 2,400 businesses have started selling online for the first time as a result of the pandemic.

  3. 71% of Leeds residents under 30 have used Google Search to look for a job in the last year.

  4. By helping them find information faster and collaborate easier, Google Search and Google Workspace are saving Leeds workers an estimated 8 million hours a year.  

  5. Since the start of the pandemic, over half of Leeds residents have used Google Search to find out if local shops or businesses are open.
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In 2020, the Internet was more important than ever: keeping us connected and informed, entertained and productive. From checking whether your local shop was open to keeping up to date with changing lockdown rules, or trying out a new fitness video to discussing work plans with colleagues, we turned to Google services to keep us going.  

In this short report, Google commissioned us to quantify how their products helped British workers, businesses, content creators, and families in Leeds throughout 2020. 

In total, by making it easier for them to connect with customers, we estimate that Google’s core search and advertising tools helped provide an estimated £508 million in economic activity in 2020 for over 5,200 businesses in Leeds

Economic activity supported by Google in Leeds by Parliamentary constituency (£ mn)

What is your favourite Google product?1

I think Google Maps are best because they save a lot of time when you are looking for places before you set off on your journey.

Man, 80

My favourite is Google Search as this helps me with everyday tasks and searching for things of importance to me and my family.

Woman, 22

Google Search. Faster and produces far better results than others. More relevant results to the country where it is being used.

Man, 63

YouTube because it gives a platform to so many ordinary people to spread awareness of different topics.

Woman, 36

Google Play as it gives me access to my digital media both on the move and at home.

Woman, 37

Google Maps, I use it daily, I find it invaluable to my daily commute as well as driving to new places.

Woman, 36
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Helping Workers Get Things Done

Workers in Leeds agreed that online tools had helped keep them productive:

When we asked how hard their job would be to do without access to core online services:

A 2015 Forrester Consulting study estimated that the deployment of Google Workspace, including tools like Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Meet, Docs, Sheets and Slides had the potential to save employees between 15 minutes to two hours per week at work, in more efficient collaboration.2 

Based upon this, and other research on the time saved by Google Search,3 we estimate that in a given year, Google services could be saving workers in Leeds over 8 million hours. That is the equivalent of producing a £373 million improvement in productivity for the British economy.4

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Helping businesses adapt during lockdown

With Covid-19 forcing many physical stores to have to repeatedly shut, online sales and advertising became ever more important in 2020. Independent estimates suggest that the share of online retail increased from 19% to 30% as a result of the pandemic. 5

Based upon our business survey, we estimate that:

At the same time, tools like Google Search, Google Maps and Google My Business helped keep Leeds’ residents connected with their local shops, and up to date with who was open. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic:

Other recent polling by Censuswide has found that over half of small businesses in Leeds plan to expand either nationally or internationally in 2022. Of those businesses expanding for the first time, 22% say that increased uptake of digital following lockdown is a factor in their decision to expand, and 23% the opportunities created by digital platforms.

By helping businesses shift to online sales for the first time during 2020, we estimate that Google helped support £60 million in economic activity.


of businesses said that online search was an important way that customers found their business, second only behind word of mouth

of businesses said that Google Docs / Workspace were useful or important in helping their business adapt to remote work

48% of businesses said that they had use Google Search to keep up to date with the latest government advice

of businesses said they are likely to continue selling their products or services online after the economy and society return to normal
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Helping Families in Everyday Life

Throughout 2020, Britons turned to Google services to help keep them informed, up to date, and safe. Google Search was one of the most important platforms through which Britons kept up to date with official advice and adapt to live during the pandemic:

In our polling, we found that Google products are now essential household tools - helping us around the home, learn new skills and keep learning:

Google’s model, free at the point of use, makes it possible for everyone, no matter their background, to benefit from the power of digital search and online information. This information can be incredibly valuable. The consumer surplus of a product looks at how much it is worth to a user - in other words, how much you would have to compensate somebody for them to voluntarily give it up.

In 2020, we estimate that Google’s core services are creating a consumer surplus worth a median of £45 per person per month in Leeds.

Case Study: Bloom Bakers


When Leeds-based Saskia Roskam and Lisa Shepherd started their Bloom Bakers market stall in 2016, they first saw it as a fun sideline income that they could manage outside their day jobs as digital marketers and responsibilities as mothers. 

“It was just something that entertained us both and created a little bit of space where we could be us — away from our desk jobs and children,” says Saskia. 

Over time Bloom Bakers’ popularity in Leeds began to grow and Saskia and Lisa started delivering to other nearby businesses, as well as making appearances at various fairs and farmers’ markets in Yorkshire. But keeping the momentum going with finite resources and other responsibilities was tough, and they realised they needed to focus their offering.

The solution was to bring more focus to the products they were offering, Saskia explains. “At a certain point we decided that we would stick with biscuits because it works better with having young children and working part time. Biscuits have a longer shelf life and you can plan in advance.”

Focusing on their personalised biscuits — with options ranging from letter-stamped fondant to hand-iced cookies in bespoke designs — they also began to look at ways to expand their business online. “We always had a website but it was very basic and we didn’t do any Google advertising or anything like that. Website visits were very low,” says Saskia.

This changed when the pandemic hit and people — separated from their family and friends — began turning to new ways to reach out to those they held dear. According to Saskia, the uplift in traffic they received was instantaneous. “It was overnight — all of a sudden we were getting orders from people across the U.K. We realised we would do well to take our business, and thus sales, more seriously, and started running Google Ads.”

Saskia and Lisa dived headfirst into the digital arm of their business, working with a Grow With Google mentor to further streamline their advertising efforts and help them build an audience for their service. 

“The first thing our mentor did was add Dynamic Search Ads to our account, which massively changed how people were seeing and responding to us. He also helped us target the B2B market, which offered really high-margin sales for us with our branded biscuit service.”

Saskia and Lisa also introduced reviews to their website and Google Business Profile, which further boosted their Search rankings and eventually revenue too, says Saskia.

“Our online sales grew by 400%, and B2B grew around 300%. We’ve grown hugely over the past 18 months and it’s all due to our online presence.” Saskia Roskam, Co-Founder & Director at Bloom Bakers

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How we quantified Google’s impact in Leeds

In this paper, we used a range of different methods to quantify the economic impact and helpfulness of Google Search, YouTube, Android and other Google products:

  • Building on the precedent of previous Google impact reports from markets including the UK, the United States, and Europe, we used traditional economic modelling built upon third-party estimates of Google market size in the UK, and standard returns on investment (ROI) to measure the economic activity driven by Google’s core products.
  • Working with independent providers Dynata and Kantar, we conducted extensive polling of a representative sample of over 5,000 individuals representing every region in the UK.
  • As part of this, we ran a decided poll of 500 adults in Leeds, weighting this by age and gender. 
  • At the same time, we polled 1,000 senior business leaders from small, medium and large businesses, representing a range of different industries across the UK.

All polling numbers in this report are taken directly from our Leeds poll, which in turn has been used to produce estimates of the consumer surplus and business productivity impact created by Google products in Leeds.

In order to estimate the business benefits and economic impact of Google in Leeds, we apportioned out our national estimate based upon:

  • Leeds’s business demography, taken from ONS data
  • Relative use of Google advertising services by business size
  • Relative use of Google advertising services in the Yorkshire and the Humber region

To learn more about our modelling approach, please see the Methodology section in the national report’s appendix. 

Public First is a member of the Market Research Society. The full tables for all the data used in this report is available to download from our website.

While Google commissioned this report from Public First, all economic estimates are derived from official, third party and Public First’s proprietary information. 

  1. Answers have been edited for clarity and grammar but are otherwise unchanged.
  2. The Total Economic Impact of Google Apps for Work, Forrester Consulting, 2015
  3. Economic Value of Google, Hal Varian, 2011
  4. Public First estimate built upon Forrester Consulting (2015) and Varian (2011).
  5. ONS