Tips for parking at a crowded mall


Crowded parking lots make holiday shopping all the more tense. Take a deep breath, relax and take it slow. Image: Grand Canyon NPS/Flickr/CC BY

The holiday shopping season kicked off in a big way over Black Friday weekend. People are out en force this year, hitting the malls and the stores. That means crowds, not just in the stores, but in the parking lots as well. The hunt and battle for a rapidly-dwindling number of parking spaces can make tensions run high. But cooler heads generally prevail when it comes to landing that last space.

Parking crazy, parking calm

Holiday shopping fever is a form of insanity that takes hold of American consumers in the late fall and early winter. Sometimes it spills into the parking lots as well. This year, a man and a woman were shot over a parking spot at a Walmart in Tallahassee, Fla. Fortunately, neither was seriously injured. But don’t allow yourself to get caught up in that kind of madness.

First of all, remember to stay calm and don’t let yourself get flustered over crowds or the grumpiness of others. That is key to getting through this experience and enjoying your day of shopping as well. Take it slow, be calm.

The hunt

If you are planning a day-long shopping excursion, try to go early, just before the stores open. However, if you show up to an already-crowded mall, all is still not lost.

First, you may want to cruise around to side entrances and see if you can find an empty slot. Shoppers tend to park as close to the main entrances as they can get. But the side entrance to your favorite store is probably just as convenient.

That exhausted, its time to ride fence. That is, circumnavigate the parking lot at its farthest boundary. People are predominantly lazy and don’t want to walk any farther than they have to to get to their favorite store. Therefore, you are exponentially more likely to find an empty parking space. And since you are going to be on your feet shopping all day anyway , are a few extra steps really that big of a deal?

You may see somebody heading to their car, hopefully preparing to leave. If you can, make eye contact with them to make your intention known. They may be just dropping stuff off and heading back for more, in which case you can just move along. But if they give you the ‘I’m leaving’ nod, wait patiently and politely and don’t get flustered if it takes them a few minutes to get settled and back out of the parking space. After all, the goal here is to get parked without getting tense.

If the mall has a parking structure, and its already packed, head for the top. Generally people forgo the upper deck because it isn’t covered. But is that a big deal in a security-heavy mall parking structure? Generally, the top level of these structures have a walkway leading into the mall’s upper levels.

For your security…

Remember, if you put your purchases in the car and then head back in for more shopping, put them in the trunk or otherwise conceal them or any other valuables from prying eyes that may be lurking in the lots, looking for mischief.


USA Today
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