Societal and economic trends

On the one hand, prospects for the car parking market are favourable. The population is still growing and urbanisation continues. In the countries where we are active, the number of cars is still increasing. Research shows that these cars are parked somewhere for an average of 23 hours a day. This creates opportunities for Q-Park's continued growth.

At the same time, the recession is making its presence felt. Consumer confidence is still low but new favourable forecasts for economic growth have a stimulating influence. Unemployment is high and that has an adverse effect on the population's purchasing power and willingness to buy. Decreasing business activity also results in vacant office buildings. The number of parking season tickets at existing offices is decreasing; at new office developments, full occupation is less often a matter of course.

Even though the economy is showing some signs of recovery, a slight rise in unemployment is expected in 2014. The highest unemployment levels are reported in Ireland (12½%, but declining) and France (11%, stable). Germany (5%) and Norway (3½%) report the lowest unemployment.

Until half way through 2013, retail turnover declined slightly (by about 1%), but by the end of the year was more or less back at the level of 2012, Eurostat reports. The Netherlands and Belgium still remain substantially behind the European average (-4%). Great Britain, France and Sweden are doing better than the average (+2%). As a result, in many countries the number of people visiting shopping centres is declining. Yet, people keep coming, albeit with a different purpose. Now that the volume of internet sales continues to increase, the distinction between doing essential shopping quickly and fun shopping in combination with online shopping is becoming clearer. In the future, there will be a combination of offline and online shopping, resulting in an overall understanding of what shops have to offer (retailers also offer customised online orders).

Multifunctional cities with a pleasant environment and a wide range of amenities, shops and culture will continue to attract the general public in large numbers. The difference with cities that do not have this offering is becoming greater.

Demographic developments have considerable consequences for society. Consistently low fertility rates, combined with longevity and the fact that the baby boomers are reaching retirement age, mean the population is ageing. The number of people of working age is declining, while the number of elderly people is increasing. The social and economic changes associated with the ageing population have far-reaching implications, both at national and regional levels. This concerns a wide range of policy areas, with consequences for healthcare, labour market participation, social security and public finances.

“Today parking is about so much more than storing cars. It’s central to the creation of livable, walkable communities. It’s about cars, bikes, mass transit, mobility and connecting people to places.”

Shawn Conrad, CAE Executive Director International Parking Institute

Developments in the car parking market

Emerging trends in parking, 2013, IPI

Trends in the car parking market

New technology makes it easier to find a parking space and pay for parking, and to manage this process better. Technology has already changed the parking industry substantially. These developments will continue in the coming years.

Sustainable solutions for the built environment