RETAILERS fear shoppers will vote with their feet when parking charges are again increased across the Capital.
Small and independent business owners are worried the rise in the price of parking will deter shoppers from coming into town.
Hourly parking rates will rise between 20p and 40p, according to the street, and will come into force in April as part of the city council’s 2017/18 budget.
A straw poll of nearly 1000 Evening News readers found that 76 per cent would be put off shopping in the city centre.
In the priciest streets, drivers will have to fork out £3.80 an hour for an on-street space.
Aleem Farooqi, president of the Edinburgh branch of the federation of independent retailers (NRFN), believes any increase in charges will have a dire impact on customer numbers venturing to the city’s high streets.
He said: “An increase of any kind on the cost of parking will have a drastic and detrimental impact on customers who would consider coming shopping in that particular area.”
And Corinna Collier of Caoba in Stockbridge, where charges are due to increase by 20 per cent, said it would particularly hurt businesses which sell goods that are not easily transported.
She said: “We sell bulky items that people primarily will take home in a car. There is only so much you can carry at one time and businesses such as Caoba will feel the impact of the rise if shoppers are deterred by the charges.
“Accessibility is also a concern. Those who rely on cars to get to the shops may think again if parking becomes too costly.”
However, Mae Douglas, chair of Stockbridge Traders’ Association and owner of The Write Stuff, said there needed to be a long-term solution to the city’s parking issues.
She said: “Raising the cost of parking across the city will undoubtedly have an impact on potential shoppers. The bottom line is it could put them off as many are not prepared to pay what it costs already.
“For example, if someone is popping in to get a photocopy, at a cost of 15p, they are not going to want to fork out more for the minimum parking charge than for the product which they are buying.
“Parking in general, particularly in shopping areas such as Stockbridge is a big problem, so perhaps the overall approach to charges needs examined.”
Previous attempts to alleviate parking problems in Stockbridge, and to help encourage shoppers, wiped out Saturday charges.
But Ms Douglas said: “Now residents, and rightfully, park on a Friday night until Monday morning, blocking a lot of the spaces from use by weekend shoppers.
“Perhaps we need to look at new solutions to parking instead of just raising the price.”
She said local traders needed to come together to propose ideas, adding: “What about underground car parks?
“We need to start thinking outside the box. I don’t know what the final solution is, but putting the parking up is not going to help.”