Almost 40,000 parking tickets were issued across Northern Ireland in the first three months of the year, government statistics show.
From January to March 38,491 were issued generating a possible £3.5m in fines. However, if the £90 fines are paid within 14 days of being issued they are halved.
In those statistics there were 24,154 fines issued for on-street parking with almost half (46%) dished out in Belfast.
For off-street parking there were 9,129 issued. This ranged from a high of 1,194 in Fermanagh and Omagh Council to a low of 195 (2%) in Antrim and Newtownabbey Council.
Over 5,200 fines were issued for offences in bus lanes in Belfast. Over three quarters (76%) of these were at three locations at Great Victoria Street (32%), Donegall Square East (29%) and College Square East (15%).
Trade body Retail NI, has hit out at the car parking fines.
Glynn Roberts, Retail NI chief executive, said: "These statistics continue to show we have a major problem to address”
“Nearly 40,000 parking and bus lane fines handed out to motorists in our town and city centres is having a clear and negative impact on shoppers and our members”
“Retail NI has consistently hit out at the this over-zealous fining policy and the negative message it sends out to shoppers who use their cars to travel to town centres. The only winners from this are the large out-of-town supermarkets, which have free car parking and no traffic attendants”
“At 15% Northern Ireland has nearly twice the UK average of shop vacancies in our town and city centres”
“Retail NI wants to see sensible and fair enforcement of car parking and bus lanes and an end to this current excessive strategy. A few weeks ago we raised this issue with the Department for Infrastructure’s Permanent Secretary urging a review of their car parking and bus lane enforcement policy”
The Department for Infrastructure said: "The aim of parking and bus lane enforcement is to reduce the number of vehicles illegally parked on our roads or driving in bus lanes or other bus priority measures. This in turn reduces traffic congestion and helps traffic to flow more freely, assists delivery vehicles, allows buses to keep to their timetable and improves bus journey times, improves road safety and provides accessibility for all road users, including Blue Badge holders.
"The enforcement of on-street limited waiting and pay and display spaces, park and ride charged car parks and council operated car parks also encourages a turnover of parking spaces, giving shoppers and visitors more opportunities to find suitable parking."