Westfield introduces paid car parking

Westfield Group’s (ASX: WDC) West Lakes Shopping Centre, located in Adelaide, has become the group’s 18th centre in Australia to introduce car park charges, however, it isn’t for the reason that may have first crossed your mind.

Whilst some companies, such as Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD), rely on car parking as a major source of revenue, Westfield’s reasoning for introducing paid parking to the centre is actually to limit the number of drivers who utilise the car parks to attend the football.

West Lakes is located immediately across the road from AAMI Stadium where, until recently, AFL matches were played. On game days, the shopping centre could expect foot traffic of up to 40,000 which was excellent for revenue, however, many other customers stayed away from the centre on these days due to the crowds and being unable to find car parks.

Although future AFL matches will now be played at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval in the CBD, Westfield’s management have been growing increasingly annoyed that people park at the shopping centre and then commute 14 km to the CBD via public transport, restricting the number of car parks available for shoppers.

To combat this, a further 154 car parks have been added as part of the expansion of the centre, and boom gates will be installed at car-park entrances. It is expected that around 90% of the 144,000 people who visit the centre each week will not be affected by the changes, given that the first three hours of parking are free.

After three hours, charges will apply, building up to a maximum of $22 for greater than seven hours.

Foolish takeaway

Although the shopping mall will miss out on the match-day crowds, the centre’s manager, Cathy Main, believes the shifting of AFL matches to Adelaide Stadium will be a good thing for the mall as a whole. She said “I would have to say it’s a net plus. A lot of people did make a decision to stay away from the centre on those days.”

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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