Monday, 24 June 2013

How an RPZ is good for retail businesses

Further up the A38 from Stokes Croft is Gloucester Road, where the local shopkeepers are up in arms about how an RPZ will hurt their business. We recognise the main issue with the RPZ -it removes the parking options for staff- but believe that actively campaigning against is a mistake

  1. Residents will be able to drive to the shops -without commuters and staff, and with reduced congestion, it will be easier to do so.
  2. Visitors from outside the area will get free short-stay and low cost long stay parking -parking spaces that were never available!
  3. It's only on a weekday, so will have no effect on the weekend revenue.
The only losers are commuters, and the staff themselves. While we understand why staff at the shops don't want to lose the right to drive to work, they have to recognise that every staff parking space has a lost opportunity cost of potential shopper. That was moot when the parking space would be taken up by commuters, but with an RPZ they will become available, so the opportunity to park suddenly becomes tangible.

The only isssue, then is the loss of commuter parking: would a reduction in commuter parking opportunities impact sales. We doubt it. 

In Stokes Croft the rollout of the RPZ, and the conversion of commuter parking to short-stay parking has tangible improvements on revenue.

Take this retail outlet, The Massage Club, here on a weekday afternoon

Previously, the two spaces would be taken by people parking here and then walking to the centre of town. Even if those two commuters did want to avail themselves of the offerings of the area -which, after a stressful commute down Gloucester Road isn't that common- once they've gone to work: no more customers.

Now the turnover of the parking spaces is frequent, you often get the 15 minute drop by "RPZ special", with hour long people paying for parking. With hour-long visits -a mere £1 in cost- we are looking at an increase in visitors/bay from 1/weekday -5/bay/week, to 8/weekday -40 a week. And those visitors have come to visit Stokes Croft, not driven round Dove Steet and Jamaica Street until eventually they find a slot.

Tangible revenue gains -even in a recession when there is less money to throw around.

Before anyone says "Stokes Croft is a special case" -look at Richer Sounds, where the Whiteladies road bus route has converted a commuter parking street -and side streets- into short stay parking. Richer Sounds benefit from this so much it's a key point on their home page.:
Parking Instructions:New improved parking!
Thanks to recently modified parking restrictions there is now a constant turnover of free spaces on Whiteladies Road right outside the shop, with plenty more close by on side roads.
No complaints from Whiteladies Road, either then.

This brings us back to "what does Gloucester Road have to fear?" Either its a belief that commuter parking brings in more revenue than day shoppers -or they are leading the campaign merely to ensure they have somewhere to park. The former belief must be mistaken -commuter parking finishes before 9, with the drivers returning to their cars after 17:45 -outside most shop opening hours. Which leaves staff parking. You have to be ruthless here and say what matters more: customer parking or staff parking. Your staff -they can walk, bus or even cycle if each free space brings in 8+ paying customers/day.

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