The ‘Free After Three’ parking initiative launched by the Chippenham Business Improvement District (BID) in September resulted in a noticeable increase in footfall and trade, according to local retailers.
The scheme offered free parking after 3pm every Thursday in Emery Gate and Borough Parade car parks and was initiated after extensive research into town centre parking that revealed these two car parks are typically underused after 3pm. The temporary pilot scheme ended at Christmas, however the BID intends to reintroduce similar parking initiatives at key periods throughout the year.
Rita Hutson of Paprika gift shop in Borough Parade said: “We certainly noticed an increase in footfall as a direct result of the scheme, so much so that we had to keep staff working later than usual while the scheme was running. We actively encouraged customers to take advantage of the free parking and clearly they took our advice. Schemes like this are very important for encouraging people to visit and stay longer. We would certainly welcome more free parking initiatives.”
Rose Makepeace of Bonmarché in Emery Gate added: “Free After Three was a fantastic idea that our customers, many of whom are older shoppers, certainly approved of. We noticed a rise in footfall and our sales went up in the afternoons the scheme was running. It would have been great if the scheme had started earlier in the day but we would still expect a repeat of the scheme to encourage more shoppers to visit.”
“We are delighted that Free After Free has benefited local retailers as the intention was always to encourage more people to visit the town centre,” explained Michael Bryant of the Chippenham BID. “The confirmation that retailers enjoyed more custom has justified the effort and investment in the scheme. We are investigating options for similar schemes throughout 2016, but it is vital that both retailers and residents are well aware that periods of free parking are available. We want to ensure that as many businesses and shoppers can take advantage.”
For more information on the Chippenham BID visit www.chippenhamconnected.com
Pictured above: Michael Bryant of Chippenham BID and Rose Makepeace of Bonmarché