Tough parking regulations and unclear signage are making it difficult for small shop owners to carry out deliveries. They are also having an impact on trade, the latest survey of independent retailers has shown.
According to the results, the majority of independent retailers do not have sufficient space outside their shops for deliveries to be unloaded. Those that do have space say they often have to contend with parking restrictions that don't give them sufficient time to carry out the whole job.
"Parking restrictions outside our store only allow deliveries to be made at times that are unsuitable and don't give us enough time to unload our stock," says one retailer. "We are in a busy location but we need to be able to make deliveries. Sometimes the van has to park 100m metres or so away from the shop and transport all the stuff through busy streets. It takes longer to do and it's much harder work. It is very frustrating."
Some retailers also report that they are confused by many parking restrictions and the accompanying signs, leading to them either being given parking tickets or having vans moved on mid-delivery. A quarter of retailers say they have been given a parking ticket for either their own transport or a delivery van being illegally parked, either accidentally or because they didn't have any choice. "The signs don't make it easy to understand when you can and can't park," said one retailer. "We sometimes just take pot luck."
Another says: "We know we can't park our vans outside but we have no choice, so we have had quite a few tickets. We put it down to operating costs because we can't really do much about it."
The Telegraph recently reported the plight of a Somerset shopkeeper who had experienced a slump in trade since new parking rules outside her shop were introduced. Some independents, particularly those in out-of-town locations, agree that parking restrictions have a negative impact on trade. The majority of store owners, however, don't deem restrictions a real problem, either because there is adequate parking nearby or because they are located in city centre areas where much of the passing trade is on foot.