Survey shows Portadown shoppers stayed longer when parking is free

The full car park at Magowan Buildings on 'free Saturday'. DSC00135(2)
The full car park at Magowan Buildings on 'free Saturday'. DSC00135(2)

A free parking day in Portadown on the Saturday before Christmas resulted in 78 per cent of shoppers staying in town longer, a council survey has revealed.

Shoppers using the car parks at Magowan Buildings, Marley Street, Meadow Lane West, West Street and William Street were questioned on the day, December 21.

Of those surveyed, 18 per cent said they were in Portadown because of the free parking while 29 per cent specifically commented that it would be good to have free parking in Portadown more or all of the time.

Comments ranged from, “I was less worried about time and having the correct money for the machine” to “great idea” and “I don’t actually mind paying as it is not expensive”.

The council had voted to run the free Saturday in order to boost trade in the approach to Christmas, with DRD Roads Service supporting the initiative, on condition that the council covered the lost revenue.

High Street Mall also took part in the scheme, absorbing all costs from the day, which the council described as a “clear endorsement from the private sector for this initiative”.

They survey concluded, “The survey findings suggest that whilst the shoppers who were surveyed may not have chosen Lurgan and Portadown town centres specifically because of the free parking, the vast majority did stay longer when they realised parking was free.

“As such, dwell time and most probably spend was increased on the day as a direct result of the initiative.”

Members of the development committee noted that if the initiative was to be repeated, it would be advertised earlier to increase shopper awareness.

Chairman of the development committee Carla Lockhart has indicated she would like to see such inititatives again.

The committee recommended that a report of costs associated with the initiative and proposals on a way forward should be presented at a future meeting.