Lewisham Council in London is funding trials of an app aimed at attracting shoppers to visit small traders by refunding their parking fees.
The authority has teamed up with tech firm Better Cities to deliver the app, which will give residents money off purchases at 24 small businesses on Deptford High Street.
Lewisham follows Sheffield City Council, which in November decided to pilot the solution as part of its Smart Lab initiative.
Councillor Rachel Onikosi, cabinet member for the public realm at the council, said: “We want to support our traders and encourage more people to shop locally.
“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.”
Shoppers who have downloaded the app onto a smartphone or tablet can scan a QR code from stickers on parking meters.
When they visit participating retailers, they are required to make a minimum purchase before scanning the QR code in the shop.
The shopkeeper will then give a discount off the purchase prices, which the council says will effectively wipe out their parking fee. The app also allows users to get the latest news from the shops involved in the scheme.
The shops involved include cafes, a delicatessen, a textiles store, a newsagent, a DIY store and a pub.
Better Cities said that allowing merchants to self select their minimum spend levels and incentives, return on investment can be between 100% and 300%.
It added that councils can benefit by supporting the resilience of town centres and increasing business rate intake. It calculates the cost benefit ratio to councils at 1:11.
Image of Deptford High Street by Adrian Scottow, Flickr.