A Hartlepool trader has come up with an idea to persuade more customers to shop local – he is offering to pay for their parking.
Mark Halliday, who runs CH Carpets with his son Callum in the town’s indoor market, will refund people’s parking charges if they spend £30 or more.
Mark said parking fees are one of the biggest reasons that can drive would-be customers out of Hartlepool.
He said: “This is a promotion I started doing in the last two weeks.
“On weekends particularly people tend to go out of town. It is the parking that puts them off, so it is just an incentive.
“When there is free parking on a Sunday we are quite busy.
“If we can reimburse that they have got no excuse. If they still choose to go out of town then fine.
“You can easily spend £30 in a carpet shop so people know they don’t have to worry about parking and are going to get that reimbursed.”
Mark has used social media to help spread the word and said feedback has been very positive so far from shoppers.
And he is trying to encourage other traders to follow his lead.
He added: “People are saying it is a good idea. I think if one does it then others might also do it.
“I have spoken to a few other shops. Because I am my own boss I can do this sort of thing where as with others they have to check with their head offices.”
This weekend saw the introduction of new parking tariffs in Middleton Grange’s multi-storey, H&M and basement car parks.
They include free parking after 3pm compared to 4pm previously between Monday and Saturday.
The centre still offers free parking all day on Sundays.
The new charges have been agreed by Hartlepool Borough Council which manages the car parks.
The extended free parking in the afternoon aims to encourage parents on the school run to visit the shopping centre.
New tariffs include a flat rate of £1 for two hours compared to 70p for one hour previously. They came into effect on Saturday.
Middleton Grange manager Mark Rycraft said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer our customers more cost-saving opportunities at the centre.
“We have worked with Hartlepool Borough Council to make sure our free parking after 3pm offers our shoppers an extra hour a day of free parking. Alternatively, if they wish to visit the centre earlier in the day then they will make a saving of 70p if they choose to stay for two hours as the current tariff will be reduced from £1.70 to £1.”
Parking at the shopping centre was worth £525,000 to the council in 2015-16.