Herald Comment: parking charges relaxation welcomed

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The Christmas shopping season kicks off officially this weekend - the first Saturday in December - when retailers will be desperately hoping they can end a difficult economic year on a high.

Traders face tough opposition from fickle customers looking for bargains in a cut-price market, and inevitably the threat of the internet.

This Monday has been dubbed Mega Monday because it is the biggest day of online shopping frenzy with £320 million predicted to be spent on Visa cards alone, as transactions hit 6.8 million.

For Eastbourne shops, faced with competition from Brighton and Tunbridge Wells, the retail offering is better than ever with the town centre and the Arndale Centre buzzing.

An array of late night shopping activities have been laid on to lure shoppers to the town centre.

News that there will be free parking from 4pm on three consecutive Thursdays in the town centre will serve as music to traders’ ears.

Parking continues to be a major issue for businesses, claimed to act as a deterrent, and the fact that the Arndale Centre is also offering the incentive from 6pm on those night will serve as a major boost to traders and an incentive to shoppers who might prefer the ease of access of out-of-town stores or the simple click of a mouse on the internet.

It is an innovative idea, let’s see if the forward-thinking is rewarded by shoppers.