have given Coventrys free Sunday parking initiative the thumbs up. The City Centre
Company along with the West Orchards and Cathedral Lanes shopping centres have abolished
charges on the car parks at West Orchards and the Barracks every Sunday until Easter.
The move was a bid to boost seven-day trading which had got off to a strong start when
it was launched in October.
Trade had slowed since the holiday period but the parking initiative appears to have
bought the shoppers back in numbers.
Jim Harris, manager of West Orchards said:
"Our food court showed an increase week-on-week of 20 per cent, which is
excellent. I havent had time to fully canvass all the stores but the response
appears to have been good.
"When you bear in mind that news of the initiative was only released last Friday
and that many people havent been paid since Christmas, we are pleased with the
"We believe there is a clear demand for Sunday opening and the response before
Christmas and the numbers who clearly took advantage of the parking offer bear that out.
"It is a gradual process but there are various events and entertainment planned
for the coming weeks."
Debenhams manager Gina Finnerty said the abolishing of charges in the two car parks had
made a noticeable difference to trade.
"Compared to the figures for last year, we were the best performing Debenhams
store in the region, which is pleasing.
"I think the free parking definitely helps. You have it at Fosse Park in Leicester
and in Leicester city centre and we have to compete. It is one factor which helps pull
All the stores that backed the launch of Sunday trading in October have pledged support
for seven-day opening and the City Centre Company are hoping more will businesses will
come on board as the success becomes obvious.
Chief executive Liz Millett said:
"We have had a very good feedback from Sunday and we are certain that as more
people come to realise they can park for free, numbers will continue to grow.
"We understand that we have to make the proposition of shopping in Coventry as
attractive as possible. We believe we have the stores, the will to make it work plus
various events and added attractions that will make Sunday shopping a part of city centre
life throughout the year."