SHOPPERS are being offered free or cut-price parking in cities across the country as part of efforts to get them to spend their money.
Councils in Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Sligo and Waterford have slashed prices and introduced park and ride services to encourage people to shop in the city centre.
The move is part of efforts to encourage shoppers into the cities and away from out-of-town shopping centres where free parking is generally available.
While spending this Christmas is expected to be down on last year, the average family is still expected to spend €1,000 on everything from presents, trees, food and drink and socialising.
Dublin city council has cut on-street parking charges by 66pc, with a €1 per hour fee in place every Saturday and Sunday until the end of December.Some 800 spaces will be available in the core retail area which includes shopping streets surrounding O'Connell Street and Grafton Street.
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce welcomed the move, saying it would help boost sales at one of the busiest times of the year. “The council’s decision to offer on-street parking for only €1 per hour is a positive move that will bring more people into the city centre over the busy Christmas period,” a spokesman said.
“Retail sales have continued to grow in recent months, so by making it easier for people to access the city during one of the busiest times of the year we should see this trend continue.
”Other cities have already introduced cheaper rates, including Waterford where free parking is available on Fridays from 3pm to facilitate late-night shopping.
In Sligo, customers can avail of a “buy one get one free” promotion where they will get an hour’s free parking for every hour they stay.
Free parking in all public spaces will be introduced from December 17, the busiest shopping period, while Galway City has introduced a park and ride scheme where shoppers leave their car at Ballybrit at a cost of €2 for the day, which entitles them to use a shuttle bus into the city centre.
The service runs every 15 minutes from 7am until 9.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.Meanwhile in Limerick, some 3,000 free spaces will be available from 2pm every day, starting next Saturday, December 8.
Mayor of Limerick, Gerry McLoughlin, said it was “another good reason” to come into the city.
“Building on the success of the current FreePark scheme where multi storey car parks will offer free parking to shoppers when they spend a set amount, this Christmas parking initiative is another good reason to come into the city and experience all that it has to offer,” he said.
In Cork, free late-night parking has been introduced along with a free park and ride service on Saturdays.