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Christmas Push Voted A Hit By Traders

City centre traders have given Coventry's Christmas push the thumbs up as they believe it has put them on a level playing field with out-of-town rivals.

The City Centre Company and Coventry City Council launched a major advertising and marketing campaign in the run up to the festive trading period, backed by a string of special car parking offers for shoppers.

The parking initiative proved so popular that it has been extended until the end of the month, while the advertising and marketing will continue through the spring.

The City Centre Company has commenced follow up work on the campaign and has had a very positive feedback from member stores.

Arcadia, which has Top Shop, Principles, Burton and Evans among its eight outlets in the city centre, did very well over the Christmas period with a sharp up-turn on last year's trade.

Vi Sheldon, senior manager for Evans and representative for Arcadia, believes the free parking scheme helped with sales and has put Coventry on a level playing field with its out-of-town competitors.

She said:

"It was a very good Christmas for Arcadia as a group in the city centre. Trade was well up on previous years and the free parking scheme was a major factor in that.

"Coventry has much more to offer than places like the Fort in Birmingham - it is just a case of attracting people to the city centre with things like free parking to make them realise that there is much more choice here.

"The City Centre Company managed to get people here by letting them know that Coventry was a good place to shop.

"The Sunday markets were introduced in the late autumn and complimented the free parking scheme that was already running on a Sunday in certain car parks. I think we need to keep these kind of initiatives going if we are to continue the trend from what was a very good Christmas."

John Henry, Allders' Store Director, was "very encouraged" by the trading in his department store over the holiday period.

"I cannot make comparisons with the previous year because that was the Millennium and was therefore a one-off situation, but trading this year was very encouraging, helped to a great extent by the decision to allow free car parking in the city centre.

"The Sunday market was also a big draw and brought hundreds, if not thousands, more people into the city centre on Christmas Eve which helped all traders.

"I think from my store's point of view, we also gained benefits from our newly refurbished ground floor, which did particularly well."

Shirley Kent, marketing and communications manager for the City Centre Company, said the priority was to keep the momentum going.

"We feel we made considerable headway in the run up to Christmas and we have certainly been given very positive feedback. The initiative, supported by Coventry City Council, was two-fold - to retain our customers in the face of stiff competition while at the same time attracting shoppers who don't normally use Coventry.

"We are now deciding how to carry the campaign forward."

The first hour's parking is free in the eight car parks - West Orchards, Barracks, the ground floor of Leigh Mills, Pool Meadow, Belgrade, Bond Street, Queen Victoria Road and Greyfriars East - will carry on until the end of January, while free parking in the Barracks on weekdays after 2pm will run indefinitely.

Sunday parking in the Barracks and West Orchards is also free all year round.
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CWN / Business / A-Z / City Centre Company Coventry / 19 Jan 01

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM