How Sunderland is going virtual with shopping perks

The arrival of a new app in Sunderland, which is being backed by a Dragon from BBC’s Dragons’ Den, is perfect for the city’s shoppers this Christmas. Faye finds out why…

ParkingPerx rewards shoppers with free parking when they spend in participating stores and is now live in Sunderland.

Ashington-born Chris Reed impressed the panel on the TV show and secured investment from Dragon Jenny Campbell.

Jenny said: “I was struck by Chris’ idea but it’s his energy and passion for his product that really stands out. He loves the North East and is determined to help retailers following a very tough year as we head towards Christmas and beyond.” 

However, since the programme aired, plans to start ParkingPerx had to be put on hold because of the Covid pandemic. 

Now the new app is ready to launch and he’s hoping it’ll help give retailers a much-needed boost with brands like Primark, M&S and Halfords onboard.

Chris said: “Like many towns and cities across the country, Sunderland has seen a significant drop in footfall over recent months and this has had a significant impact on the local economy. Research shows that people are willing to support their local High Street but parking fees continue to be a barrier to trade for town centres. We are working in partnership with the Bridges and Sunderland City Council, and have the backing of many national and local brands to reward shoppers who choose to support the city centre.”

‘Parking Perk’ owners Chris Read and Jenny Campbell (Dragons Den) talk at The Looking Glass Cafe in Sunderland.

The launch has also been welcomed by leading figures in the city.

Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID said: “I’m absolutely delighted that ParkingPerx is now launching in the city and that we are first city in the UK to introduce it. We have worked with Chris on this since the very initial idea was born and it’s great to see it finally launch. 

“The timing is perfect with Christmas around the corner bringing the opportunity for people to earn Perx while out shopping which can be used immediately or when they return in the future. Innovative ideas like this are what we need to encourage people to come to the city centre and to return regularly.”

RingGo is already involved and Chris is planning to roll out the solution into other areas of the UK in the new year with a number of locations already signed up.

Find out more at

Faye Dixon

Lifestyle Journalist and Blogger from the North East.

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