A survey of customers at a Northampton jewellers has shown 80 per cent of them were unaware of free car parking.
Wesley Suter, of Steffans, in Abington Square, conducted the survey to gauge whether Northampton Borough Council’s initiative was encouraging shoppers to the town.
Staff asked about 800 customers of whom only about 160 knew about the free offer on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays in four car parks, including the nearby St Michael’s.
Mr Suter said: “The free parking is an absolutely fantastic idea, don’t get me wrong. I just think it needs a boost in terms of advertising.
“If we were to give away free diamonds with certain jewellery, it’s a fantastic offer but no good unless you tell people it exists.”
The council made a big announcement about free parking in its car parks when the various schemes began in April last year.
However the amount of signs put up reminding people which car parks are included has been lacking, businessmen have said.
The LED signs dotted around the town advertise how many spaces there currently are in some car parks, but there is no room for pricing information.
Permanent street signs are the responsibility of Northamptonshire County Council.
Despite this, Councillor Mary Markham, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said the take-up on free parking was very good.
She said: “More than a million motorists have used our free parking offer in the 10 months between April 2014 and February 2015, so the word is certainly getting around.
Councillor Markham said the council had a very limited budget for paid-for advertising and said there was therefore always more that can be done.
But she did point out that the offer has been advertised in towns across the region, on the Love Northampton website as well as its own, and in the town’s tourist guide.
She added: “We also offer stocks of leaflets promoting free parking to town centre businesses. We think it is a great offer that is attracting people to Northampton and traders have told me how very important it is to them.
“It would be really helpful if businesses and partners such as the town centre BID could promote the offer to their own customers on their advertising and by displaying the leaflet, to help spread the word. We will take a stock of leaflets to Steffans and other town centre businesses this week.”
Parking is free in all Northampton Borough Council car parks on Sundays and bank holidays. Blue Badge Holders and Motorcycles park free of charge.
There is free parking every Saturday and Sunday, plus two hours’ free every weekday in the following car parks:
For full listings, click here.