Free parking offered to tempt vital Christmas shoppers to Shropshire towns
Christmas shoppers are being lured to towns across Shropshire by the offer of the attractive bauble of free parking.
Parking fees are being set aside in many car parks during the festive period as high streets try to do battle against the out-of-town shopping centres and the ever-growing internet.
It's a vital time for high street shops and market traders everywhere and they will be hoping that not having to pay for parking will bring the present-hungry hunters out in their droves, more than balancing those who are put off by the stress of having to battle for spaces.
Christmas is a key time for retailers, but there have been dire warnings from experts of spending being well down on usual as the cost of living continues to bite.
Consumers know too well that budgets have been squeezed but there is always the temptation to spend, spend, spend, especially for parents being pestered by trend-chasing children.
The British Retail Consortium has warned that sales are sluggish as consumer budgets are being squeezed by dearer mortgages, fears over fuel bills and a continued rise in the price of many products.
The good news so far is that town councils from Newport to Ludlow to Oswestry and Bridgnorth and Church Stretton have all reported big turn-outs to warm-up events including Christmas light switch-ons.
But they will all be keeping their hollies crossed that the momentum can be kept up as December starts and the panic starts to build for presents.
Among the places offering free parking are Oswestry where the Central, Horsemarket and Smithfield car parks will be free to use on December 2 and 3, 9 and 10, 16 and 17 and 23 and Christmas Eve.
In Shrewsbury, parking is free on Sundays in the Frankwell and Abbey Foregate car parks. Parking at St Julian's Friars, Bridge Street, St Austin's Street and the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre is also half-price on Sundays.
In Telford Town Centre parking is free from 5pm every Thursday to coincide with late night shopping, and parking on Sunday is a flat rate of £2 across all Telford Town Centre car parks.
Car parks in Wellington, Oakengates, Dawley and Newport are free 365 days of the year.
In Bridgnorth parking is free on Sundays at the Innage Lane and Severn Street car parks.
In Ellesmere parking is free on Sundays at all council-run car parks, including Cross Street, Spar Bridge, Talbot Street and Ludlow Smithfield.
In Market Drayton parking is free on Sundays in council-run car parks while Whitchurch asks for nothing to put your wheels between two lines on Sundays, as do most of the car parks in Ludlow.
Towns in Shropshire will also be competing for business with places like Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Chester, which will also be putting forward tempting offers.