Indies have lambasted plans by councils around the country to ramp up town centre parking charges, branding the strategy a footfall killer.
In a recent Drapers survey, 66% of the contemporary womenswear indies polled said there were no free parking facilities nearby and 36% of those with free parking said their council was preparing to charge a fee. Of contemporary menswear indies surveyed, 54% said they did not have free parking facilities nearby and 65% of indies without free parking said their council was looking to increase fees.
Pennie Muir, co-owner of handbags and accessories indie Buckle & Hyde in Stratford-upon-Avon, said soaring parking charges had “killed” trade in the town, with footfall dropping significantly: “It’s had a huge effect on shopping. A lot of indies have closed and locals aren’t coming in to do shopping in the town centre. It’s had a very detrimental effect.”
Scott Crowson, managing director of contemporary indie Gere Menswear in Lincoln, said he had mixed opinions about parking. While there is plentiful and cheap parking in both Boston in Lincolnshire, and Redditch in Worcestershire, where Gere Menswear’s sister stores are situated, Crowson said: “In Lincoln it’s a nightmare. It’s £11 a day and on Saturdays it’s gridlock trying to get in.”
Anne Horton, managing director of indie department store group Hoopers, which has stores in locations including Carlisle, Harrogate and Torquay, said: “Town centre car parking is what encourages people to go to out-of-town shopping centres. If town councils would only realise that and not charge so much, or at all, that would make a big difference.”
Last week it was announced retail guru Mary Portas would lead a government review examining the difficulties faced by the high street. Many indies, including Muir, are urging her to put parking issues at the top of her agenda.
Are parking charges hitting your business? Give your comments below.