Tauranga's CBD is underperforming as a shopping destination according to a new piece of analysis, and a retailers' representative points to parking as the main problem.
Tauranga Mainstreet chairman Brian Berry said increasing difficulty accessing the CBD was restricting retailers' ability to attract customers and make sales.
"People are giving up and going elsewhere," he told a Tauranga City Council committee meeting on Tuesday.
"It's been getting worse in recent months due to a loss of car parks due to developments."
Retailers were "hurting pretty bad" and accounting firms had reported clients cancelling appointments because they could not find parking.
He wanted CBD workers to be discouraged from parking in the city all day, suggesting the council could limit CBD parking to three hours.
Julie Hammon of Hammon Diamond Jewellers said business was brisk but she worried about the future as construction picked up.
Rejuvenating the CBD was "fantastic" but she wished more thought had been given to keeping the shopping district accessible during the transition.
"The lack of parking is definitely a frustration for a lot of my customers."
Hammon, a Mainstreet Tauranga board member, wanted to see innovative solutions - maybe park-and-rides or public transport incentives.
She believed the CBD was suffering from the short sightedness of past councils "hell bent on driving cars out of the city".
Pamela Wilson of Maggie J Shoes said customers complained about parking being hard to find.
In its annual report, the council noted increasing demand for city centre parking. More construction sites in the city centre were "exacerbating the problem".
Parking was at 84 per cent peak occupancy for on-street parks, 83 to 99 per cent for off-street and 90 to 100 per cent for parking buildings in the past financial year. A rate of 85 per cent was considered ideal.
The council's transport manager Martin Parkes said there were 2750 paid parking spaces in the city centre.
Fifty short-term parks were temporarily blocked behind the library. This time next year, those would be back and 90 all-day parks would be closed at Harrington St for the construction of a new parking building.
He said the council wanted to make it more attractive and easy for people working in the city to bike and bus in, so car parks were freed up for people who lived further out.
"If we insist on viewing a car park as the primary unit of value we will miss an opportunity to create a more accessible, more vibrant city."
Val Auld, Cabbages and Kings owner, said people needed to be patient.
"It's all part of the pain of growing."
Street view: What do you think about parking in the CBD and how does it impact your decisions to visit?
"It's stressful. It's hard to find a park and then when you do find a park, you've got to pay lots of money."
Hunter Lewis, Brookfield