Experts indicate there are approximately three parking spots for every vehicle on the road today.[i] What they don’t tell us is where all those parking spots ARE.
I can tell you where they aren’t – they aren’t at the mall!
Of course, I’m kidding. But it is that time of year when malls are flooded with shoppers in search of the perfect gift, the best deal and the closest parking spot. So, how do you score the trifecta?
Good question. If I had an answer to that, I would be selling it to everyone who would listen and I would be rich! But before you get an urge to go all “Fried Green Tomatoes” on someone, I have a couple suggestions on how to cope with packed parking lots during this time of year.
- Use the buddy system. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Plus it allows the driver to stay on the lookout for other cars and shoppers who are not on the lookout for you. Meanwhile, the passenger can be watching for open parking spots. There are also safety benefits to using the buddy system if you’re shopping late and the parking lot is dark when you exit the mall.
- Drop-n-park can work well in some circumstances. When the only available parking is a long way off, drop others off at the door if it doesn’t stop the flow of traffic. Partner it with the buddy system and you’ve got a double-bonus, as the person who was dropped off initially could make the return trip to the vehicle. Again, make sure that stopping at the door to load your passenger(s) and packages doesn’t interrupt the flow of traffic.
- Avoid peak shopping times, like weekends. If you’re a “9-5er,” that may seem difficult, but can you take a late lunch and do some power shopping mid-afternoon on a Tuesday? You might be surprised how much you can squeeze into 30 minutes at the mall when no one else is there!
Of course, there is always the option of valet parking. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of handing the keys of my car to a stranger to drive off until I return. And while it is becoming more common, not every shopping center offers this as an option.
Finally, if push comes to shove, practice your parallel parking, so that, in a pinch, you can squeeze into a spot like this guy …
[i] 800 million spaces and nowhere to park?. (2011). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://persquaremile.com/2011/01/20/800-million-spaces-and-nowhere-to-park. And
Eran Ben-Joseph. ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking. MIT Press 2012