Businesses call for discounted car parks this Christmas

Published: 01/12/2020

Independent businesses believe discounted car parks could reignite the high street this Christmas

The number of empty shops on UK high streets has skyrocketed as a result of the global health crisis. And, as such, there is believed to be nearly 40% fewer visitors than last year.

So, as we return to the tier system, we sought to find out what independent businesses think local councils can do to help drive footfall around Christmas.

What do local businesses think is stopping people from visiting the high street?

infographic about what's stopping people parking in high streets

We surveyed 500 SME owners to reveal why they thought people weren’t visiting the high street before the second lockdown. Unsurprisingly, “working from home” came top of the list, with 82% of businesses bemoaning its impact on trade. Access to online shopping (74%)and expensive cars (27%) also earned podium finishes, coming second and third respectively.

Interestingly, these three negative factors finished ahead of “coronavirus restrictions” (18%) and “public transport access/costs” (11%).

Less than a quarter (22%) of those surveyed stated that they thought their local council was doing everything they could to encourage people to return to the high street before the second national lockdown. What’s more, almost two thirds (62%) of business owners said they saw a drop in sales after the Government announced working-from-home restrictions back in March.

So, it begs the question: post lockdown, what support do businesses want from their local council?

What do UK businesses think councils could do to encourage people to visit the high street?

infographic about car parking in high streets

Our findings reveal business owners think a car park cost-cutting scheme is crucial to driving post-lockdown footfall on the high street. In fact, businesses believe city car parks as more important than food and drink discount initiatives, such as this summer’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

Three quarters (75%) of local businesses argue that free or discounted council parking could entice Christmas shoppers back to the high street. Almost one in three (27%) believe expensive car parking is the reason many people won’t head into the city.

What UK businesses think councils could do to encourage people to visit the high street

Discounted parking (40%)

Free parking (35%)

Shopping vouchers (25%)

Improvements on the high street (such as lighting, outdoor space) (24%)

Food or drink incentive schemes (19%)

Discounted or free public transport (18%)

Increased hygiene on the high street (6%)

 

Our research shows that almost two thirds (65%) of independent businesses want their local councils to enforce a weekday discount or free parking scheme. In addition, 12 percent of companies want a free parking scheme on the weekends.

Even though the consensus with local businesses is that councils aren’t doing enough to accommodate high street shoppers, the takepayments UK City Car Park Cost Index reveals private car parks are significantly more expensive.

Rachel Thomas owner of Parades Ends Books, an independent book shop located in Kingston, London, was due to open her doors in November however the second national lockdown delayed this. Rachel said:

"I have had to open my bookshop for click and collect due to the lockdown. If there had not been a lockdown then I could have opened my doors properly for browsing in the shop.

Instead I have had to sell via online through my website. Sales are of course affected as click and collect only brings a small portion of income compared to coming into a bookstore. The whole point of independent bookshops is the experience of being in a physical bookshop and browsing and getting recommendations from staff and buying physical books.

I do feel that a free or at discounted parking would help bring people to the high street to help businesses make as much revenue as they can for Christmas, as well as further improvements to the high street."

To see how your local council car parking compares to the rest of the UK, head to the takepayments UK City Car Park Cost Index here.

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