Research by leading parking technology company Parkeon shows that at any given time around 30% of cars in towns and city centres are looking for an on-street parking space.

Small wonder then that many people prefer shopping centre locations, with easier access to parking, where they can make the most of the time at their disposal. In response to this trend, Parkeon has developed a range of flexible parking solutions purpose-designed to combine convenience for motorists with a return on investment for centre and car park operators.

“Efficient off-street parking can be a true ‘win-win’ for the whole urban environment in terms of easing congestion, encouraging retail business and enhancing the experience of consumers,” says Danny Hassett, Parkeon UK & Ireland Director.

Among the most recent shopping centres to invest in advanced parking technology is New Square in West Bromwich, which has commissioned a Parkeon ParkREG system that includes Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

This technology uses ticketless state-of-the-art digital equipment to track vehicles as they enter and leave the car park. Cameras positioned on each of the entry lanes to the centre car park record the number plate and vehicle; this information acts as a virtual ticket and is stored in a database. No ticket is issued and there are no barriers on site.

All visitors to New Square pay for their parking on exit by going to one of 18 Parkeon pay stations on foot after completing their shopping. They key in the last three digits of their number plate and select the photo of their vehicle on the screen and the system then calculates how much needs to be paid.

As Danny Hassett explains: “The convenience of such barrierless systems can be a positive factor in driving up economic activity. For end users at West Bromwich, ParkREG means no queuing on entry or exit, which speeds up through-put at busy times, and this ease-of-access encourages visits to the centre. The system also has the potential to enable retailers to develop commercial offers linked to parking.”

Indeed, shopping centres are becoming increasingly alive to the retail channel opportunities presented by parking technologies.

“Parking can be an innovative route to consumers for retailers,” says Danny Hassett, “particularly with information and payment systems shared via mobile and App technology. At Parkeon we’re already working closely with Mastercard to link the retail world with parking-based offers, enabling stores to push parking discounts or product offers directly to the payment terminals or mobile phone users to drive footfall. This new generation of parking interaction can be a positive driver for economic activity.”

This sharing of data is creating a true multi-platform environment that engages the needs of consumers with service providers, moving to a world in which parking becomes ever-more closely integrated with every other area of urban life.