Retail Impact of Car Parking Charges

One piece of news that caught my eye this week was that car parking charges across Stoke-on-Trent could be cut and special offers introduced to tempt shoppers into the town centre.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is looking at how they can claw back lost earnings from its car parks as motorists turn to free or private alternatives.

The issues of charging for car parking in town and city centres is undoubtedly one of the factors in some centres declining in popularity with many retail operators heading to the out of town retail parks where you put your car between the white lines for free. The extent of the revenues generated from Stoke’s car spaces was quite revealing where Finance Officers are expecting the council to make almost £400,000 less than they budgeted from parking income in 2011/12.

New figures show income from parking charges in Stoke has fallen consistently since 2009/10, when it reached almost £3.2 million.  Forecasts for 2011/12 indicate income could fall to about £2.5 million.

A report will be presented to the Council’s cabinet early next year, which is expected to recommend cutting the cost of parking across the city from April.

City Councillor Alison Wedgewood said to Council Officers:-
“Revenue is less now than in 2009/10 when the prices were quite a bit less.  This indicates people are being put off parking in the city because of the price.”

Perhaps Stoke-on-Trent Council have an eye on Capital Shopping Centres expansion of the Potteries Shopping Centre which is hoped to start work in the middle of next year.  Efforts to drive up town centre visits ahead of this scheme starting may be all the justification that Stoke needs to reduce car charges perhaps.

If Councils look at the town and city centre pricing in a little more detail may it not be better to consider the benefits of reducing some charges to better promote visitors into central retail areas.  It will be interesting to see if Mary Portas the Styled “Mary Queen of Shops” takes up any of the arguments about car park charges in her review for government on the decline of some town centres which she is working on at the moment.

For more information about Harris Lamb’s Retail Department, or if you just need some general advice, Matt would be eager to speak with you. Call him on 0121 455 9455 or email       

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