New parking restrictions in Stevenage have caused “significant drop” in retail sales

NEW parking restrictions in Stevenage Old Town have caused “a significant drop” in sales for Waitrose, according to the store manager.

Due to changes made by Stevenage Borough Council, customers are now required to obtain a chip coin to raise a barrier to the supermarket’s car park on Primett Road, which is then validated at the checkout so customers are not charged if they park for under two hours.

The council has also introduced a three-hour parking limit along the High Street, as well as turning the former lorry park on Primett Road into a long-stay car park.

Rob Pender, manager at Waitrose in Stevenage, said: “It has had an impact on trade here. The number of transactions we do is down. It’s a significant drop.

“We are going to be doing more to advertise that it is still free parking for Waitrose customers, in the hope we can get some of the customers back. The signage in the car park is not very clear - the fact parking is free for Waitrose customers is right at the very bottom.”

The Old Town parking restrictions have also adversely affected restaurant trade, with Barbara Gent, manager of Pizza Express in the High Street, saying: “Its definitely affecting the trade. If customers want to park in one place, go for a shop in the Old Town, and then come here, it will take longer than three hours.”

However, some traders are finding the parking changes have had a positive effect on business. Nathan Kitto, partner of Alta Image in the High Street, said: “Before commuters were parking in the High Street and going to London, and my customers could not park. Now they have no problem.”

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Stuart Deamer, owner of Deamers in the High Street, said: “So far it has improved trade, as people can pop in, whereas before they would go up and down and wouldn’t be able to find a space.”