Cheaper and simpler parking could help kickstart Preston’s struggling high street, commerce chiefs have said.
According to a new study from the Local Data Company, show 31 shops closed in the city during 2011 making it among the worst-hit in the country.
Hugh Evans, policy director at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said retailers and city chiefs need to offer shoppers a reason to come to the city centre instead of using ‘out-of-town’ shopping parks.
He said: “Our shopping habits are changing and in order to survive, the High Street must change too.
“If our High Streets want to compete with out of town centres, supermarkets, and the internet, then they need to offer value for time as well as value for money.
“That’s about offering more of an experience which makes a trip into town worthwhile and about simplifying factors such as parking and access.
The Business Improvement District team at the Chamber are working hard on both counts to ensure that Preston competes effectively as a shopping destination.”
He added that Chamber of Commerce members “constantly tell us that the cost of parking is too high”, whereas parking is free at out of town shopping parks.
But he also admitted there was a “balancing act” to be struck because reducing the cost of council car parking would possibly mean fees would have to rise in other areas.
He also called for a “more flexible approach to parking,” where all car parks require customers to pay on their way out instead of as they are going in.
Councillor Drew Gale, Preston city centre ward councillor said; “We need to approach the problem from multiple angles rather than just parking.
“There needs to be a good mix of both nationwide and independant businesses. A lot more needs to happen in view of incentives.
“People wouldn’t come into the city centre if there wasn’t anything to bring them here in the first place.”