Councils urged to encourage shoppers back to the high street with free Christmas parking

 

Councils should be offering free parking from the middle of December to tempt Christmas shoppers back to the high street.

 

The call is being made by the AA, who has said that councils should make the move in order to “help revive the festive fortunes of beleaguered shops and street traders”.

 

The motoring organisation has warned that the machines often used to issue parking tickets can make social distancing difficult, as they often cause shoppers to queue or bunch up in order to pay for parking. Though some car parks offer pay-by-phone alternatives, a 2017 survey discovered that 70 per cent of motorists would rather drive past than use this service. 

 

Motorists are put off by the potential for extra chargers, while order generations often struggle to get to grips with the new methods of paying for parking. 

 

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Various parts of the country have #ShopLocal campaigns as they are petrified that niche local stores will be put out of business by on-line retail and lockdowns.

 

“Free parking periods at Christmas have been used in the past by councils and shopping centres to tempt customers into the high streets and shopping centres. The AA believes that, now more than ever, the hours and free parking locations should be extended.

 

“With fewer shoppers and some avoiding public transport, opening up free parking would also allow better social-distancing instead of ticket machines becoming the ‘Achilles heel’ of attempts by stores, councils, and shopping centre managers to space out and protect visitors.

 

“This has been made worse by ticket machines becoming more complicated by requiring vehicle registration numbers as well as credit card details. Also, queuing is often a problem as ticket machines are often located where shoppers are squeezed at car park entrances or close to toilets.”

 

The AA is calling for free parking measures to be implemented from December 14.

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