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London council uses digital – and the promise of reduced parking costs – to woo shoppers to the high street

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A London council is trying out a new way of using digital – combined with the promise of lowering parking costs – to bring shoppers to the high street.

Lewisham council is working with smart technology company Better Cities on the launch of a MoreforMe app in Deptford. There, customers can use the app to get parking costs refunded when they spend a minimum amount in-store with Deptford. After downloading the free app, they scan a QR code on the parking meter to activate their session. Then when shoppers make the minimum purchase at a retailer taking part in the scheme, they scan the store QR code and the retailer gives a discount off the purchase price to the shopper.

By doing the same in other stores, the promise is that they can effectively wipe out the parking fee.

Lewisham council is funding the scheme, developed by Better Cities, until the end of December. Other locations set to follow will include Blackheath Village, also in Lewisham.

Councillor Rachel Onikosi, Lewisham cabinet member for the public realm, said: “We want to support our traders and encourage more people to shop locally. We have collaborated with local retailers and Better Cities Ltd on this initiative, which we think is a win-win all round. The shopper benefits by saving money on their parking fee from their purchases and retailers benefit by having customers who visit, dwell and spend more.”

The initiative comes at a time when more shoppers are going online to buy. British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures released last month are among recent evidence of a marked move away from physical shops, and especially away from high streets.

Adrian Ulisse, chief executive and founder of Better Cities, said: ‘We are delighted that Lewisham Council are one of the first local authorities to support this initiative. The MoreForMe App brings the rewards of collaboration and digitisation to High Street businesses and addresses the disproportionate impact that parking fees has on shoppers.

“It puts the power back in the hands of local retailers by allowing them to set their own minimum spend and discount levels. We hope that London shoppers will feel the benefit in their pockets for being one of the first in the UK to adopt such an innovative service which aims to help High Streets around the UK compete in this digital age.”

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