Parking evidence – retail spending 2018

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Hamilton’s electronic spending increased overall by 4.6% in 2017 to 2018; but in the Hamilton central area it increased by only 3.6%.

My February 2018 post on ‘Parking Evidence’ asked “If increased parking supply really did attract more pedestrians, one would expect to find some evidence, but there is none”. Over the last year, more buildings were pulled down and the land repurposed for car parking. My estimate is that over half the land (excluding roads) in the city central is set aside for car parking only. The question that needs to be asked is ‘how much is too much parking?

In this post I find that “If free parking supply really did attract more retail spending, one would expect to find some evidence, but there is none”. Late in 2017 a 2-hour free parking trial began in Hamilton Central City. The idea is that ‘On-street parking should be provided as a service to support an active, strong commercial central city’. The cost of extending this service into 2020 is $662,234. We now have a full year’s data with which to benchmark retail spending change. But first we should look back at what was known before 2-hour free parking was introduced.

Central City Plan Draft Central City Recovery Plan, For Ministerial Approval December 2011 – Central City Plan Technical Appendices 2 of 3 – Appendix O. Parking Plan Analysis

4) There is a lack of evidence that parking regulations hinder economic activity (p554)

“It is commonly claimed that reducing parking supply will result in decreased economic activity, but there appears to be no conclusive evidence to this effect. Research on the economic effects of parking constraints undertaken by Ben Still and David Simmonds (in Shoup, 2005) concluded that: “There is no clear evidence from aggregate statistical studies that parking is clearly linked to retail or other sector economic vitality… There is no systematic evidence to suggest that either lax parking standards encourage or that strict standards discourage economic growth.” Shoup (2005), therefore concludes that: “if restraints on the parking supply really did limit economic vitality, one would expect to find some evidence, but there is none. – Similar conclusions were also reached by Booz-Allen Hamilton’s (2006) study on parking restraint on business vitality in and around Auckland City. In addition Shoup (2005), highlighted a study undertaken by Oxford University economist Robert Bacon who developed a model showing that: “While bundled parking increases vehicle travel and traffic congestion, it may, perversely not increase the total sales of shopping centres.”

In the table above I start with dollar values from the HCC Elected Member Briefing (Annual Plan) – 21 March 2019, then I present total spend as percentages across Hamilton by location and as percentage change.  “If free parking supply really did attract more retail spending, one would expect to find some evidence, but there is none”.

From Briefing to council 21 March 2019 page38
Total spending 2017 = $1,783m, 2018 = $1,865, 4.6% increase
Spending in Central City Zone 2017 = $633m, 2018 = $656, 3.6% increase

Reference: Retail Location – see District plan maps

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