Slashing car park prices by up to 55 per cent has given a shopping centre a massive boost.
The number of shoppers going to Eagles Meadow in Wrexham has rocketed by more than 20 per cent since the new rates were introduced on Christmas Eve.
The dramatic increase comes at a time when footfall in shopping centres across the UK has gone up by only 0.8 per cent.
The good news was revealed at a tenants’ meeting by Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley who believe the centre has shown the highest increase in the UK so far this year.
Also in attendance were the new operators of the car park, Secure Parking UK who have more than a million car parking spaces in 11 countries world-wide.
Since the new charges were brought in they’ve seen about a 40 per cent increase in the number of cars parking there.
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.
According to a number of tenants, they’re recruiting extra staff because of the increased footfall.
Kevin Critchley said: “The effect of the big reductions in car parking charges has been absolutely tremendous.
“From the very first day which was Christmas Eve, where we actually offered free parking which was a first for Eagles Meadow, it’s just been one happy experience after another.
“Certainly, the one hour parking rate of £1 that has been reintroduced is very well received by Boots and Marks and Spencer’s for example, but all of the other tenants are experiencing good increases and positive comments.
“On average, shopping centres in the UK are 0.8 per cent up in terms of their pedestrian counts while here at Eagles Meadow were up by 20.6 per cent, , so that’s one heck of a performance.
“I would put money on the fact that we’re probably the highest gain shopping centre in the UK, because I can’t imagine that many of them are increasing their pedestrian count by 20 per cent. It’s fantastic amount,
“For us it’s not just people coming to shop for clothing and other goods. It’s also people coming to the restaurants and places like the ODEON cinema and Tenpin as part of our leisure offer.
“This is great news for Eagles Meadow but it’s also a boost for the whole of Wrexham which needs to work in expanding the catchment area for the town.
“The timing is perfect because we’ve just got a new Pandora shop that’s opened and several other new stores link The Entertainer, Roman and E.ffective.”
“I think 2016 will be a real bumper year for the centre and I think it will probably be the best year we’ve ever had, and I think that’s being reflected that we’re getting a lot more interest now in the few available units we’ve got.”
Guy Watson, the general manager of Secure Parking UK, was delighted with how things were going.
He said: “It’s been extremely positive and we’ve seen about a 40 per cent increase in the volume from the same time last year which is fantastic, not only for the car park but for the retailers and the centre.
“What we’re trying to do is change the aim of the car park so that it’s more of an extension of the shopping centre rather than its own separate entity.
“Car park operators can sometimes lose sight of the original purpose of the car park which needs to be an extension of the retail and leisure offer, working closely with the tenants.
“Nobody comes to a car park as its own destination – it’s a vehicle which enables people to go to M&S, Debenhams, Nandos, Odeon, Tenpin or wherever.
“The response from the tenants has been overwhelmingly positive to and we’re looking forward to working in partnership with them so we can be even more successful together in future.”