PERTH business owner Alison Puchy says expensive parking played a decisive role in a dire Christmas period for local retailers.
Ms Puchy, the owner of Secrets Shhh jewellery store in Carillion City, sent photographs to all Perth councillors taken on Christmas Eve that showed a number of CBD stores with no customers.
“These photographs of empty (or near empty) stores in Carillon City and the Hay Street Mall at midday on Christmas Eve tell the story of the City of Perth’s misguided parking fee policy,” she wrote.
“Meanwhile, suburban shopping centres are brimming with shoppers. The City would have been packed with bargain-hunters on Boxing Day without subsidised parking. We needed discounting parking now, not after Christmas!”
Ms Puchy told Guardian Express the negative impact of the current economic climate was exacerbated by the City’s parking policies.
“I have run my store for 13 years and in the early days in the lead up to Christmas I would have to come in much earlier just to get a parking spot at the PICA cark park. This year I could not believe it – because of the car parking fee increases, which have been way beyond what is reasonable in this economic climate, it is basically empty.
“On the first night of extended trading hours I drove in early and the car park was basically empty.
“I did a double shift – and when I came back it was to an entirely empty floor, which is dangerous.”
Ms Puchy said the argument that free parking in December would have lost significant revenue for the City is “fatuous”.
“Better to slash the rates for parking, get those car parks full and give the retailers something before Christmas,” she said.
“Only two councillors responded (to the email) – two of the councillors who pushed for the free Christmas parking.
“I saw every single jewellery store the day before Christmas – they were virtually empty. I have never seen anything like it.”
A motion for free weekend parking in December moved by Deputy Lord Mayor James Limnios was banished to the finance committee, which produced a hybrid version facilitating some free parking in the second half of December and first half of January.
This new motion was then rejected by Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and other councillors, with an alternative motion permitting free or cheaper parking during two weekends this month.
On Wednesday Ms Scaffidi said parking would be free at Goderich Street, Queens Garden, Mayfair Street and Regal Place – all serviced by CAT bus routes – while a flat fee of $5 would apply to the Concert Hall and Pier Street carparks, from 8am to 6pm on January 7, 8, 14 and 15.
“Historically, January is the quietest month of trade in the city and to support local businesses, we are encouraging people to take advantage of this special offer and shop in the City of Perth,” she said.
A statement from the City of Perth said that aside from offering cheaper parking than private providers, “CPP invests revenue back into the community to fund vital infrastructure, services and events; ensuring the City remains a safe, vibrant and attractive destination”.
Ms Puchy said trialling free parking in January was not necessary.
“People come into the city in great numbers after Christmas for the sales – they don’t need the encouragement then,” she said.