Christmas parking fines: Which UK city issues the most tickets?

How to avoid a parking ticket this Christmas

The most wonderful time of the year is often the most expensive, but our studies show that the festive costs eating into your pocket are less to do with Christmas gifts and more to do with your car. Our analysis of parking fines issued across the UK has revealed the cities out to sleigh slay with the most penalties issued in the country. Our research focuses on the UK’s most populated cities and is made up of the received responses from 83% of freedom of information (FOI) enquiries.

Key statistics

  • 399,000 parking tickets were handed out to Brits during December 2019.
  • £33.5 million worth of parking fines were issued to drivers last Christmas, amounting to an average of almost £54 per fine.
  • Almost 65% of the population plans to travel for their Christmas shopping this year, with the majority (18.7 million people) opting to drive.
  • Which city hands out the most parking fines?

    London tops the list, with over 5% of the city’s population being issued a ticket during the festive period. Edinburgh follows closely at 2.73%. Manchester, Glasgow and Stoke-on-Trent take out the next three spots, at 1.97%, 1.72% and 1.46% respectively.

    Belfast and Sheffield round off the list with their much more lenient measures. Last year, just 0.09% of Belfast were fined for their parking, while only 0.65% of Sheffield had their winter festivities topped with a ticket.

    City Number of fines Population % of population issued with tickets
    London 303,627 5,790,556 5.24%
    Edinburgh 14,335 524,930 2.73%
    Manchester 10,911 552,858 1.97%
    Glasgow 10,878 633,120 1.72%
    Stoke-on-Trent 3,733 256,375 1.46%
    Bristol 6,455 463,377 1.39%
    Liverpool 6,809 498,042 1.37%
    Leicester 4,595 354,224 1.30%
    Swansea 2,985 246,993 1.21%
    Cardiff 3,986 366,903 1.09%
    Coventry 3,640 371,521 0.98%
    Birmingham 9,377 1,141,816 0.82%
    Sunderland 2,106 277,705 0.76%
    Sheffield 3,816 584,853 0.65%
    Belfast 317 343,542 0.09%
    Data correct as of December 2020

    The particularly low ratio between population number and parking fines issued makes Belfast an ideal spot for shoppers who plan to drive in December. With a population of 343,542 (as of 2019), the Northern Ireland capital only handed out 317 parking fines in the run-up to Christmas last year. Sheffield was similarly as forgiving, handing out just 3,816 parking fines within a population of 584,853.

    Rounding off the five best places to shop via car are Sunderland, Birmingham and Coventry. 0.76% of Sunderland shoppers were fined last year, while 0.82% of the Birmingham population were handed a ticket. Coventry sits just above with 0.98% of shoppers fined for parking.

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    Which city has the most expensive ticket prices?

    London and Belfast are in close range at the top of the list, with respective costs of £95 and £90 per fine on average. And while Birmingham shoppers may not be issued the most parking fines in the country, it’s certainly a costly expense, as parking fines are just over £63. Cardiff sits at the other end of the spectrum, with the lowest average charge of almost £7 in our sample.

    City Number of fines Total value of fines issued Average fine cost
    London 303,627 £28,692,181 £95
    Edinburgh 14,335 £860,100 £60
    Manchester 10,911 £669,970 £61
    Glasgow 10,878 £652,680 £60
    Birmingham 9,377 £592,410 £63
    Liverpool 6,809 £476,630 £70
    Bristol 6,455 £289,396 £45
    Leicester 4,595 £229,750 £50
    Cardiff 3,986 £26,440 £7
    Sheffield 3,816 £198,430 £52
    Stoke-on-Trent 3,733 £186,375 £50
    Coventry 3,640 £208,763 £57
    Swansea 2,985 £95,066 £32
    Sunderland 2,106 £107,800 £51
    Belfast 317 £28,530 £90
    Data correct as of December 2020

    How are Brits travelling to do their Christmas shopping this year?

    With the recently lifted lockdown and not long to go until Christmas day, cities like London, Birmingham and many others will see residents flock to the shops in preparation. According to our survey results, 65% of Brits will be doing their Christmas shopping in person, with 36% opting to travel by car.

    By car By public transport By walking Online shopping Don't plan on shopping
    Overall 35.70% 16.30% 24.90% 24.80% 10.50%
    16-24 28.10% 21.80% 26.90% 28.10% 9.70%
    25-34 30.70% 19.90% 29.20% 28.50% 8.90%
    35-44 35.10% 17.40% 27.20% 26.10% 9.50%
    45-54 40.90% 9.90% 23.40% 21.10% 12.00%
    55-64 39.20% 12.50% 21.60% 21.30% 14.10%
    65+ 47.50% 12.30% 16.10% 20.30% 9.70%
    Data correct as of December 2020

    Those aged 65+ are among the majority who would prefer to drive for their Christmas shopping this year, while those aged 16-24 would be least likely to take a car.

    The pandemic has encouraged some to seek other methods of shopping to avoid physically being outside, as almost 25% of those surveyed said they would be shopping online this December. Online retail has seen an understandable surge thanks to the pandemic, with retailers based solely online seeing a 45% rise in customer spending from February to October.

    A closer look at London

    For Londoners driving to the shops this Christmas, evading a parking fine may be a difficult task. The city tops our lists for both average parking fine cost and the number of parking fines issued – but how do the numbers look by borough?

    A deep dive into our data sample shows that the City of London (borough) takes the crown for the worst place to park in over the festive period. The borough issued a whopping 12,800 fines to its population of just 9,721.

    Harrow also contributes to the city’s overarching top spot, with both the highest amount of fines issued and the highest total value. The north London borough issued 77,811 fines to almost 31% of its population in the run-up to Christmas.

    Borough Population in 2019 Number of fines
    London - Westminster 261,317 18,062
    London - Wandsworth 329,677 11,883
    London - Waltham Forest 276,983 7,047
    London - Tower Hamlets 324,745 9,553
    London - The City of London 9,721 12,800
    London - Sutton 206,349 2,215
    London - Southwark 318,830 4,033
    London - Richmond upon Thames 198,019 5,854
    London - Newham 353,134 15,981
    London - Merton 206,548 4032
    London - Lewisham 305,842 6,703
    London - Lambeth 326,034 10,636
    London - Kingston upon Thames 177,507 8,684
    London - Kensington and Chelsea 156,129 13,288
    London - Islington 242,467 10,558
    London - Hounslow 271,523 7,061
    London - Havering 259,552 6,593
    London - Harrow 251,160 77,811
    London - Haringey 268,647 15,786
    London - Hammersmith and Fulham 185,143 10,635
    London - Greenwich 287,942 4,304
    London - Ealing 341,806 3,086
    London - Croydon 386,710 12,674
    London - Brent 329,771 11,388
    London - Bexley 248,287 4,959
    London - Barking and Dagenham 212,906 8,001
    Data correct as of December 2020

    A Christmas solution

    Unless you did all your Christmas shopping during Black Friday, you may be heading to the shops in person this month. But with over half the population willing to travel for their festive shopping, parking fines could see a rise. As a solution, perhaps you could join the 24.8% of Brits who will be taking their shopping ventures online or the 24.9% who will be taking a stroll to the shops. Or you could take a cleansing approach and join the 10.50% who have sworn off Christmas shopping altogether for this year.

    For all media enquiries, please contact

    Matt Mckenna
    UK communications manager
    T: +44 20 8191 8806


    • Finder commissioned Onepoll on 7-11 November 2020 to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+.
    • A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.

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