New figures, meanwhile, show the retail sector is showing continuing signs of improvement with vacancy rates in Cork city almost halving in recent months.
The news emerged last night as Cork City Council unveiled plans to display real-time information on available parking spaces on electronic signs around the city to assist shoppers.
The council, in collaboration with the City Centre Forum, said the smart-parking project will provide up-to-the-minute information on the number of and location of available car parking spaces in seven car parks, and at the Black Ash park and ride.
The information will also be available online, at any time, through the city council’s Open Data Repository by clicking on http://data.corkcity.ie/index.html.
The smart-parking initiative comes just weeks after the City Centre Forum unveiled its Cork Cashes Out project which aims to promote cashless transactions, and encourage people to use credit and debit cards to pay for goods.
“This Christmas season we are encouraging people to ‘think smart’ and take advantage of these new facilities when visiting the city to experience the wonderful festive atmosphere and take advantage of the exceptional seasonal shopping and line up of exciting events,” a council spokesman said.
The Cork Business Association (CBA) also welcomed CBRE Ireland’s latest report on the Irish retail sector which shows continuing signs of recovery and growth.
CBA chief executive Laurence Owens said his members are delighted with the growth figures and the continuing improvement in consumer confidence.
“But, more importantly from a Cork city centre perspective, we welcome the news that vacancy rates are continuing to decline,” he said.
“It is really encouraging to see that Cork has shown the most significant improvement in vacancy rates over the period, reducing by 12.9% to stand at 6.6% at the end of the third quarter this year.”
Meanwhile, former Cork senior hurling manager Jimmy Barry Murphy will turn on the city’s Christmas lights on St Patrick’s Street at 7.15pm.
Road closures, traffic diversions and bus route changes will be in place from 1pm today to facilitate the switch-on ceremony.
Entertainment, which kicks off at 6.30pm, will be provided by the Cork-based Voiceworks choir and band, who will be joined on stage by The Voice UK performer Claudia Rose, and the children’s choir Winter SING.
And the city’s hugely popular Glow Christmas festival, which attracted records numbers last year, will be launched next Friday night.
It will feature a walk-through winter wonderland in Bishop Lucey Park, a food market, a 30-metre Ferris wheel and a vintage carousel over the weekends in the run-up to Christmas.