By Eoin English
Companies that run four of the largest multi-storey car parks in Cork have launched a loyalty app that offers cashback and prizes to encourage buyers into the city.
And amid the ongoing debate about the impact of the afternoon car ban on the city's main road, the city's biggest pedestrian shopping district, Opera Lane, said sales in some of its shops actually rose in recent weeks, compared with the same period last year. .
The details appear when the city Christmas lights will be turned on at 7:15 this afternoon, and ahead of the sales promotion raft ahead of Black Friday.
Q-Park said they hoped their new Q-Park Rewards application would help create a "high eco-road system" that would benefit the entire city and a spokesman encouraged retailers and restaurants to register for free to be part of the scheme.
He responded to questions from the Irish Examiner at the foot of criticism from the city council operator of a private car park last week.
After days of constant condemnation of the car ban, council members supported the car ban last Monday after a free, free parking initiative late at night was unveiled in the Paul St and North Main St. board rooms.
During the debate on the 2019 city budget last Thursday, the city council said operators of private car parks must do more to encourage city trade.
Q-Park, which runs the Grand Parade, parking lots of Carroll & Quay, City Hall and St Finbarr, said it had not seen "significant changes" to "parking numbers" since the reintroduction of priority bus lines in August, but refused to provide specific figures, citing commercial sensitivity.
The spokesman said they offered a number of promotions throughout the year, and offered a 30% discount on normal rates when customers booked online.
But he added: "We also launched a new loyalty application in the last few days that allows visitors to the city to receive gifts / cashback for parking and retail / restaurant shopping in the city.
"We will also emphasize that Q-Park does not commercialize retail / restaurant agreements but hopes to create a high eco-road system where we help improve the economy of the city center. We will recommend to any local business, large or small, to contact us to join with the scheme. "
Meanwhile, Opera Lane, a shopping area near St Patrick's St, said sales in some of their stores actually rose in the September-October period compared to the same period last year.
They refused to provide specific data for questions from the Irish Examiner, but in a statement, the spokesman said retail was very challenging – not only in Cork, but everywhere.
"There are very many complex variables in the workplace that affect sales," said the spokesman.
"According to many Opera Lane traders, the introduction of new traffic rules and priority bus lines in St. Patrick's St does not affect overall sales and in fact, some shops are trading ahead of the same period of 2017 in September and October.
"We believe that as Opera Lane is a pedestrian street, our customers are used to finding their way to the area on foot and this has worked for our benefit.
"Since the introduction of Black Friday, November now tends to be a quieter month because customers are waiting for our special offer to start.
"Some Opera Lane outlets will launch their Black Friday sales on Monday with discounts of up to 50% from seasonal collections. This offer, combined with the Christmas lights on last night will add to the excitement and atmosphere in the city center and we hope to build until Christmas becomes strong. "
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Authority (NTA) has effectively ruled out the introduction of free public transportation in Cork to help car tire beds on.
Cllr Ted Tynan's Workers' Party urged the NTA to follow the example of Dunkirk, where the bus is free.
But in a statement, the NTA said it was preparing a Cork Transportation Strategy "with cost-effective steps and plans" considered to further promote the use of public transportation.