According to this article in The Register Guard the city of Eugene, Oregon is considering adding parking meters back in their central shopping district, meters they removed in 2010 to stimulate business during the recession.
Businesses and elected officials are concerned that too much parking is being taken up, all day, by employees of downtown businesses, causing customers inconvenience and wasted time as they circle for parking.
Business associations are often reluctant to support parking management policy. The claim is that customers will happily drive miles out of their way to avoid paying relatively modest rates in exchange for easy access to the destinations they want to visit. But there is evidence that making it easier for patrons to find parking can boost business.
Customer traffic is the lifeblood of storefront retailers, restaurants, and other small businesses. Business leaders who think that accommodating more drivers is the key to success should consider how many eyeballs (and wallets) can be brought to their business by various modes.
Local businesses are facing a major challenge from online retailers like Amazon. Car centric shopping malls are failing all over the country. Free parking is a great way to attract cheap patrons to your store so they can window shop and then buy what they want for a cheaper price online when they get back to the car.