2022 has begun with a marked return of optimism across the parking community. Whilst there are still challenges and unknowns ahead, many of the people we speak with across our business are exploring new opportunities & ways of working and are feeling positive about the immediate future. As we continue to grow here at Unity5, we have welcomed a range of new recruits to the team, including three developers, an assistant product owner and a customer experience/support specialist. They each bring great experience and will be valuable additions to the team as we continue to work with our clients and partners to Make Every Day Better.
As the year gets underway, we are thinking about three things in particular:
Parking code of practice
This much-anticipated package of new government measures to protect drivers from unfair charges was finally announced in February. Whilst there has been a mixed reaction in the industry, we are confident that the code represents an opportunity to build an innovative and transparent future for motorists, operators and landowners.
The code will present challenges across the parking community and we are here to support you, our clients, to not only conform but to use technology to reduce any additional burden on your teams. We are committed to supporting our clients and the industry to understand the challenges and opportunities that the bill presents.
We are creating a Client Engagement Panel that will meet regularly to share insights into the product development process to shape how ZatPark implements technological changes around the new code and we will be hosting a series of webinars, discussing various topics from the parking bill.
We believe that our clients knowledge and experience within the parking industry can play a key part in shaping the future of how we support you and your business under the new guidelines and have recently invited you to complete the short feedback form to register your interest in participating in the Engagement Panel and to specify any particular items from the bill that you would like included in the webinar discussions.
State of retail
Retail is a key driver of parking behaviours, the sector continues to experience uncertainty as we gradually emerge from the pandemic. Not only is the continued movement towards digital channels impacting overall retail numbers, but the potential future appearance of new variants is going to weigh heavily on everyone’s minds.
Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive said: “Customers face strong headwinds in 2022, with energy prices and national insurance contributions both set to rise. The remaining disposable income also faces greater competition from a resurgence in tourism, eating out, sport and live music. Rising inflation is reducing consumer demand while increasing the costs for businesses.”
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in December, a key month for retailers, there was an across-the-board slump in spending including food, clothing and footwear, household goods and department stores. However Retail sales volumes rose by 1.9% in January 2022 following a fall of 4.0% in December 2021 (revised down from a fall of 3.7%); sales volumes were 3.6% above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels
National retail footfall figures supplied by Springboard, a provider of data on customer activity showed a strengthening of footfall in February over the month as a whole, to -20.7 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, from -20.8 per cent in January. There was a 9.1 per cent uplift compared to January, which was the largest single monthly boost since June 2021, suggesting that consumers are returning, slowly, to bricks and mortar stores.
The team at Springboard held a webinar to review retail footfall and changes in 2021 and to consider the likely trends for retail through 2022, which many may find of interest https://www.spring-board.info/webinar-annual-footfall-review-2021/
IPC Higher Education Group
We are very proud to have sponsored the Higher Education Interest Group meeting hosted by the IPC who met on Tuesday 15th February. It’s was an interesting event held at the University of Leeds and addressed the overarching theme of: “How can Universities use Technology to help reduce the impacts of Covid 19 on their current parking operations?”.
While we’re not quite out of the woods, we do think that some stability has returned to all our lives and we hope that, in turn, the public’s confidence will grow over the coming weeks and months. We all no doubt look forward to returning to as close to normal as possible and catching up with friends and colleagues in person at the face to face events we will be attending this year and working closely with you on the challenges ahead, helping to build a strong parking industry with a bright future.
We are all in this together.