A CHRISTMAS "gift" of an extra hour of free on-street parking from city chiefs could generate up to €30m in much-needed sales for city centre retailers, according to a leading business association.
Dublin City Council has announced its Christmas Parking Promotion in which motorists who pay for a minimum of one hour on-street parking will get an extra hour of free parking for the entire month of December.
The only catch is that they must pay using the free retail parking payment option operated by Payzone. This involves motorists paying for their parking at a Payzone outlet at close to 300 participating newsagents and convenience shops such as Spar, Londis and SuperValu in the capital.
The initiative allows drivers to pay without having to go back to their cars to display a parking receipt.
David Guiney, CEO of the Dublin city Business Improvement District (BID), said the initiative is welcome news for Dublin city centre retailers who have been struggling to keep afloat since the recession began five years ago.
"It's certainly very welcome news," he told the Herald.
He estimated that the initiative could help generate between €20m and €30m in retail sales revenue if people stay in the city centre longer to shop, based on an average of two people per car parking at one of 4,000 on-street parking spaces in the capital for an average stay of between two and two-and-a-half hours.
An analysis of shoppers in the city centre reveals that close to a quarter of shoppers (21pc) drive into town to shop.
And while some motorists will use the extra hour of free parking to do other things, he said most people at this time of the year will spend some of their time in town shopping.
Declan Wallace, executive manager with Dublin City Council's Roads and Traffic department, said he also expects the initiative will help boost revenues.
"As well as offering a discount to motorists parking in the city over the festive season, the promotion will encourage motorists to try out this new method of paying for parking and also increase footfall for retailers," he said.