Can a car park save the high street?


Since the pandemic, the UK high street has been under almost constant pressure, from online sales to increased overheads and navigating the cost-of-living crisis.

Businesses should be doing all they can to try and encourage customers to visit their stores, but could a car park be the secret weapon and powerful asset the high street needs?

UK high street
UK high street

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The task at hand

Shopping habits have changed and continue to evolve. People browse and shop online much more than they ever did before, and this was only increased by the pandemic and the increasing number of people hybrid working. Driving traffic back into key areas is going to be crucial.

For many people town and city centre parking feels more difficult than it needs to be, with less space and the assumption that paying for parking is expensive. But this means they instead rely on public transport, which in some instances isn’t as convenient, or is beset by delays.

That can continue to force people away from the high street and to shopping locations that are more easily accessed.

A better destination

A car park serves to bookend a journey. To give the public confidence and get their shopping trip started on the right foot a car park needs to be a pleasant place to leave a car.

A positive parking experience can take many forms, but in general, there are a few key elements car parks need to possess:

  • Free from congestion
  • Plenty of space
  • Access to services
  • Easy to pay for parking

These are all things that make a car park an attractive destination. If a car park is managed well, it can transform it into a destination site, one people prefer and are confident enough, to leave their car at. If parking is easier and more convenient it makes it more likely that people will head out to the shops instead of relying on online shopping.



Meet user needs

Car parks can be more than a place to leave a car while you shop, work, or visit someone. Adding services that help fit into visitor’s lives and make a site more beneficial is a key step to encouraging repeat visits and driving people back to a site.

From better ways to pay for parking, to additional services like EV charging, making more of your site draws more people to your car park. Pre-booking is a great way to drive people back into cities and towns, there’s a common assumption that parking in these areas is at a premium and often expensive. Planning a trip and pre-booking and paying for parking get rid of the stress around managing a stay.

Pre-booking parking for commuters helps to take some of the stress out of getting to and from work, with the ability to extend a stay and be more flexible, instead of heading straight home after work, they could opt to browse some shops or meet a friend for food etc. A car park shouldn’t just make it easier for people to get into a town or city centre, it should encourage them to stay there.

If your car park has ANPR you can potentially access a wealth of insight that can help you to understand what direction your parking needs to go in.

ANPR data lets you understand the space available for pre-booking, the payment habits and even the vehicle types using your car park. It’s data like that which identifies the major changes you could make on your car park. Are you seeing a major increase in EV drivers? Then it might be time to invest in some chargers. Are you seeing a greater amount of people trying to pay for parking using contactless payment? It could be time to refresh your payment options with card, contactless and app-based payments. Does your site have loads of surplus space? Now might be the perfect time to promote it for pre-booking and encourage more people to make trips to your site and the businesses around it.


Increase dwell-time

The longer people stay on-site the longer they are likely to spend time exploring, eating, and shopping nearby.

Better dwell time can translate into increased footfall and sales for businesses in the area. This is why making it as easy to park as possible can have such a huge boost on the performance of the high street.

Services like EV charging can help encourage people to stay for longer on-site while they complete a charging session. Having flexible payments, such as autopay, or pay by mobile, also means visitors aren’t as restricted by how long they can stay in a car park, with payment being automatically deducted, or parking sessions easily extended.

An effective car park can go a long way to supporting the high street, but it needs to work in tandem with the efforts of other businesses. It creates the right impression and a proper welcome to shoppers and people visiting an area. Still, there also needs to be a concerted effort from businesses to make the most of the increased footfall and opportunities.


Helping you to make more of your car park.

Improvements to a car park could be the lifeline a high street needs, encouraging shoppers to return by making their parking experience as simple as possible, while creating a parking environment that’s significantly more welcoming.

At Parkingeye we are all too aware of the issues facing businesses and we can use our years of experience to help transform sites to make them work harder and smarter.

To find out more about Parkingeye and how we can help you unlock your car park’s true, untapped potential, get in touch using our contact form.