'Free parking' is expensive and does not sell more
When considering free or cheap parking in shopping areas, it is important to research what this will bring to the shops. Most municipalities aim for a thriving retail sector but the research and practical experience available to CROW-KpVV in The Netherlands, show free parking to be an an expensive measure that hardly contributes to the number of shop visits or shop revenues. Moreover alternative measures are cheaper and contribute (much) more. These measures are in the fields of investing in a high quality public realm, a good mix with other entertainment functions like bars, cafes and restaurants, museums, and special events at or near the shopping area. Looking at the impact of transport related variables, the most important factor is that it is well organised. Easy accessibility and ease to find a parking spot is influential in the choice of the shopping area for a mere 15 percent of the visitors. Parking rates play only a role for 6 percent of the visitor. Altogether municipalities have measures to their disposition promoting the retail sector that are much more effective than free or cheap parking. There is no such thing as free parking because the cost of free parking is very high for the municipality, i.c. the tax payer; An attractive shopping environment' is key to the success of shopping areas, not free parking. Read more here.