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Pedestrians spend more money in town centres than motorists

Released on 22 November 2012

The range of shops and services in a town centre is more important to visitors than whether they have to pay to park there, according to new research.

London Councils commissioned consultancy The Means to review previous research done about the impact of parking and parking charges on town centres.

Their report, The Relevance of Parking in the Success of Urban Town Centres, looks at whether there is a link between free or cheap parking and the amount of commercial activity at town centres across London.

It also analyses how people travel to town centres and how often they visit their local high street and larger shopping centres.

The research concludes that more parking does not necessarily mean more trade. A well managed parking scheme where spaces turn over frequently can help to increase the number of visitors to a town centre. A good mix of shops and services and the way a town centre looks are some of the most important factors which attract shoppers.

A key finding was the number of people arriving at a town centre by car is frequently overestimated. Although car drivers spend more on a single trip to a town centre, walkers, cyclists and people using public transport visit more frequently and spend more money there over a week or a month than motorists do.

Chair of London Councils Transport and Environment Committee, Councillor Catherine West said: “London Councils commissioned research to find out whether there is a link between free parking and the commercial success of a town centre.

The research shows that although retailers still perceive parking as being one of the main reasons for lack of footfall, people travelling on public transport or by foot visit town centres more often and spend more money than motorists.

The study suggests that the range of shops and services and how a high street looks are more important factors in attracting people into town centres than free parking. Every town centre is different and every local council and community will need to make its own decisions about parking charges.”