Slashing car parking charges has powered a surge in sales of nearly £3.7 million at a shopping centre in North Wales.
Since the fees were drastically reduced late last year, figures show that Eagles Meadow has attracted almost 67,000 extra customers.
And with a recent study by experts at Loughborough University estimating that the average customer spend in town centre shopping centres stands at £56 per head per visit, the additional extra income generated at Eagles Meadow could be a staggering £3.7 million in just the past seven months.
Wrexham Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths hailed the huge surge in business which she said was good news for Eagles Meadow and the town as a whole.
And Centre Manager Kevin Critchley was jubilant about the news which he said demonstrated that Eagles Meadow had bucked the current trend in retail spending.
He and his team along with retailers at the centre had long campaigned for more affordable parking.
Then, just in time for last Christmas, came the welcome news that the fees would be reduced by between 55 per cent and 38 per cent.
Among the changes is a new one hour rate of £1 for people who just need to pop by for a quick visit.
The two hour rate has been cut from £3.10 to £1.50 while the three hour charge is down from £4.49 to £2, with a reduction in the four hour fee from £5.60 to £3.50.
Meanwhile, the evening rate has been reduced from £2.50 to £1.50 for people going to the cinema, tenpin bowling or to eat at one of the centre’s restaurants.
The change came about because the lease held by car park operators Vinci was terminated by mutual agreement and another company took it over.
The new operators are multi-national car park specialists Secure Parking who have more than a million car parking spaces in 11 countries world-wide.
Eagles Meadow was their first car park in Wales.
In the months after the fees cut there was plenty of positive reaction from centre retailers but the definite benefits of the move have now been fully revealed for the first time.
A delighted Kevin Critchley said: “Our latest figures reveal that in the seven months between the new lower charges being introduced in the week before last Christmas and July 10, our pedestrian count which measures people coming into the centre had increased by 4.9 per cent on the same period of last year.
“This represents an additional 66,709 people visiting Eagles Meadow and is excellent news, especially as it’s against a background of other shopping centres across the UK recording decreases in footfall over the past year.
“To stay level in terms of pedestrian count is considered to be good these days but to record an increase is just fantastic.”
Kevin added: “Even better news comes from an influential study by Loughborough University entitled The Customer Experience of Town Centres and based on findings from six major shopping centres.
“This shows that the average customer spend per visit to these centres is just under £56. Applied to our latest footfall increase, this means a potential extra spend at Eagles Meadow in the past seven month of around £3.7 million, which is just staggering.
“If this sort of success story continues our total footfall figure for this year could easily be something like three million, which is directly attributable to the reduction in parking charges.
“I’ve not heard anyone at the centre – retailers or customers – say that they’re not very pleased with the new charges.
“For instance, the Marks & Spencer store tell us they are very happy because the new one-hour rate of just £1 is encouraging more people to do a quick food shop with them.
“Generally, everyone is very positive about it. The charges are definitely generating more shoppers which, in turn, leads to more sales in the stores and restaurants and a more successful shopping centre.”
Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths said: “This is really good news for both Eagles Meadow and the whole town.
“I, along with many others, made representations to the car park’s previous operators about the level of charges, so it was good to see them reduced late last year.
“The latest analysis of footfall at Eagles Meadow shows clearly that if parking charges are reasonable it can draw more people into a shopping area and create valuable extra sales revenue.”