SHOPPERS are being driven to out-of-town shopping centres by `over-zealous' parking and bus lane fines which saw 110,689 tickets issued in just nine months, according to independent business owners.
Retail NI denounced the latest statistics from the Department of Infrastructure as "simply staggering", claiming they were "a clear and negative impact on shoppers and our members".
"The only winners from this are the large out of town supermarkets, who have free car parking and no traffic attendants," chief executive Glyn Roberts said.
"We want to see sensible and fair enforcement of car parking and bus lanes and an end to this current excessive strategy. We will be pressing the Department for Infrastructure to urgently review their car parking and bus lane enforcement policy."
A third of Belfast's bus lane fines have been issued in a single city centre street - with more than 20 motorists falling foul of fixed CCTV cameras every day.
Donegall Square East continues to generate the most revenue for the Department of Infrastructure with 5,307 fines issued to cars driving in its bus lane between January and September.
However, with the total number of such infringements across Greater Belfast now standing at 15,356 compared with 32,254 (issued in just seven months) in 2015, it seems that drivers are becoming used to the restrictions and increasingly steering clear of bus lanes.
The city tops the list of on-street parking fines, with 28,628, issued in the first nine months of the year - there were 67,795 issued across Northern Ireland.
Not included in these figures are drivers in Coalisland, who have not received a single on-street parking ticket from traffic wardens for the seventh year in a row.
Despite Coalisland being regarded as a hotspot for problem parking, there are few parking restrictions such as double-yellow lines and so parking attendants do not regularly patrol there.
Ahoghill, Aughnacloy, Ballykelly, Castlewellan, Cullybackey, Dromore (Co Tyrone), Gilford, Newtownstewart, Portballintrae and Richhill also had no fines issued for off-street parking.
Motorists in other towns of a similar size and smaller have meanwhile received parking tickets, such as 39 penalties issued in Fivemiletown and 18 in Castlederg last year.
There were 9,872 off-street parking tickets issued in Northern Ireland, ranging from a high of 1,220 in Fermanagh and Omagh Council to a low of 242 in Antrim and Newtownabbey Council.