Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Park the charges to boost retailers

Christmas didn't exactly come early for the High Street. Any High Street, anywhere.

Shopping statistics for the festive period make grim reading for some of the bigger chains in particular.

It's not just a local thing - not just the fallout from street protests. A much bigger influence is the popularity of the internet marketplace combined with a shortage of money which encourages shoppers to spend wisely rather than spend freely.

How do city centre traders and town centre shops regroup and fight back?

Local reports suggest that Lisburn had a good Christmas. The city benefited from a good advertising campaign, well-targeted, with the aim of making Christmas shopping there as attractive as possible with various retailers offering discount deals.

It's a template that could be used elsewhere.

Despite the weather and despite the cost of parking most of us still enjoy the idea of the day out in town. A bit of a trawl around the shops. A bite to eat in a restaurant or a drink in a bar.

The things that discourage shoppers - not least those parking charges - could surely be worked on.

The traders in Lisburn have proved that if you pull together, offer bargains and present your city or town's shopping centre as the venue for a fun day out, you will attract business.

The old "shop 'til you drop" mantra has taken a bit of a kicking in the recession.

But there's still money out there and customers who would be happy to avail of a bit of retail therapy. Especially if they were made to feel they weren't being ripped off at the parking meter.

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