Report: retailers ‘vastly overestimate’ the role of free parking.

We hear time and time again that urban retail centers need free and plentiful parking, and without it the customers will not come. New research, however, shows that the actual evidence for such claims is scant at best, and that retailers “vastly overestimate” the role free parking plays in their success. More from The Atlantic:

The review was conducted earlier this year by the cross-party policy group London Councils. The group performed a thorough meta-analysis of the existing academic and public agency research on the role of parking in urban commerce. It also sent parking questionnaires to all 33 London boroughs (comprising the city center, as well as inner and outer areas) and conducted market research with shoppers at three commercial centers in the outer regions. The findings can be reduced down to four main reasons retailers don’t need free parking to thrive.

1) Free, plentiful parking often hurts more than it helps, 2) shopkeepers overestimate how many customers arrive by car, 3) they also overestimate how much car customers spend, and 4) a mix of retailers is more important than parking supply.