Some of the biggest hassles we can experience when going out on the weekly shop on a Saturday morning is parking. It can always be congested and you can end up spending more time than needed driving around a car park either waiting for someone to vacate a spot or in a worst case scenario, to leave and have to park in another car park further away.
Councils across the UK have noticed this as an issue and have been introducing smart city technology in order to try and better manage this on-going issue and alleviate the stresses and hassle it is causing to drivers on a weekly basis.
When you turn to park up to a retail shop the first impression you get other than actually walking into the shop is the car park. That means if a car park is being badly managed this can therefore cause inconvenience to the people wanting to visit the shop or even prevent them from going into the shop at all if they are in a time sensitive situation. The other issue with many retail car parks currently is that they are non-profit which leaves them open to abuse by people if there isn’t any payment solution in place.
What changes are being made?
One of the biggest innovations that are being put in place are smart parking vehicle detection centres. This has recently been implemented in over 3000 spaces across Cardiff city centre. The brilliance behind this technology not only detects when a vehicle is parked in a parking space but also records the times of arrival and departure of that vehicle from that parking space.
The idea behind this scheme was for it to be linked to a smartphone application so that drivers can see where and what car parking spaces are available. This will save drivers time exploring car parks blindly to no avail and can save walking time to destinations.
The areas where these sensors are being deployed in Cardiff include areas of high demand such as shopping centres in the city centre and retail parks located on the outskirts of the city. Nationwide we have also seen the introduction of pay on foot systems that were only originally in areas such as hospitals and city centre multi-storey car parks. This again can effectively manage the throughput of traffic and alert drivers as to whether there are vacant spaces within the multi-storey car park or not.
How does this benefit retail shops as well as drivers?
The benefits that retail shops will see from the introduction of smart car parking technology such as that in Cardiff is mainly a more efficient turnover of customers coming into their shops. If drivers are able to find a vacant space closer to the shop they need to visit it means they will be able to get to the shop quicker, get their goods quicker and vacate the space they’ve been parked in quicker for the next customer. This means an increased and more efficient footfall of customers going in and out of retail shops.
The introduction of pay on foot systems being implemented in retail shopping car parks until parking sensor technology is available is also beneficial. This prevents people using the car park for reasons other than to leave their car whilst they go shopping, for example if there are offices nearby certain drivers may see the car park as a free parking option for the entire day.
To prevent this an ANPR camera will detect when the vehicle has entered the car park and measure the time, they’ve stayed there against the time they’ve paid for. If they go over this allotted time a PCN (penalty charge notice) is issued.
This abuse is very common especially when pay and display car parks have been implemented closer to different places of interest such as near office blocks. And, with the cost per day of having to park there many people choose to walk a bit further to the office block and find a place of parking which is free of charge. This may seem convenient for the driver in question but causes a continual headache for managers of car parks and the associated retail shops who are missing paying customers as a result.
With the high street shops doing worse than ever before shopping centres and retail parks are now the hub of shopping activity and this has brought and increased traffic throughput as well as the demand for parking. It is essential to manage the parking activity and introduction of smart parking technology responsibility in order to cope with this demand. Not only this but the profitability and the streamlined day to day running of the retail shops depends upon people being able to park close to the shop and quickly not wasting too much time.
As mentioned already if they is a good parking system in place managed with smart technology or pay on foot systems this prevents:-
- Abuse of the car park by people not using the shops at all but wanting free of charge convenient parking near another place of interest.
- A bad first impression of the shop and their parking system from customers who may well become frustrated or even abandon their shopping trip.
- Streamlines the flow of cars in and out of the car park in and out through one way systems preventing any congestion or bottlenecks, especially during busy seasonal periods such as Christmas.
The benefits will be clear and easy to see both from the perspective of customers using the shops and also with the balance sheets or bottom line at the retail shops in question. This multi-beneficial option is already being implemented in certain areas such as Cardiff as we’ve already discussed but the wider implementation of these systems is key to responsibly managing retail car parks for the future and making provision for increased traffic flow in high demand retail areas.