DEBENHAMS' promise to pay for parking for shoppers in Oxford has been extended until Christmas Eve.

The department store said the offer, which launched in early December, had 'proved a big hit with shoppers'.

But the policy has been criticised by some, including Oxford Bus Company director Phil Southall, for encouraging people to drive into the city centre, adding to congestion.

The retailer is picking up the cost of two hours parking when shoppers spend £50 in store on items from its fashion, home, beauty and gifting ranges.

Shoppers need to produce a photo or ticket at the till point as proof of parking for the cost to be deducted from goods purchased.

Store manager, Craig Shuttleworth, says: “Parking woes have been a pressure point in the region for a long time, so we are delighted that we are able to do our bit to encourage shoppers to hit the high street right up until Christmas Eve.

"We hope that shoppers will not only ‘do a bit of Debenhams’ but also meet with family and friends and rediscover everything that is going on along their high street.”

Earlier this week Mr Southall cited Debenhams' offer as one of the pressure points adding to traffic problems in the city centre.

He said a 'perfect storm' was creating severe delays for passengers.