If possible, try to avoid shopping on the most crowded shopping days. These include the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), the three Saturdays before Christmas, the day after Christmas, and the Monday, Tuesday, and Friday before Christmas. You’ll encounter fewer shoppers midweek, right when the store opens, around 3:15 (when parents are picking up their kids from school), and just before closing time. Lunchtime and weekends guarantee more competition for parking spaces.
Are you a parking “vulture” who circles around a lot before deciding where to park, or a “stalker” who follows someone with bags or a cart and waits for them to load and leave? These strategies may cost you significantly more time in the lot- we all know how annoying it is when the person you are following heads to a different aisle.
“Stalking is only your best option when there are no spots left,” says Shawn Conrad, CEO of IPI. “When spots are still available farther away, head directly there. There will be a lot less congestion and wrangling for space. In most cases, you’ll beat the others to the door and avoid exit lines.”
According to insurance statistics, parking-related crashes account for 70 percent of all car accidents and 14 percent of auto damage insurance claims. Be watchful of pedestrians, especially small children, as well as other drivers, and avoid texting and checking shopping lists until you are safely parked.
Consideration for fellow drivers goes a long way, especially during the stressful holiday season. Unless you have a legitimate placard, never pull into a space designated for people with disabilities-even if it’s just for a minute. Park between the lines and make sure your neighbors can open their vehicle doors. Take a few seconds to note where you parked–using a smartphone to take a snapshot can help.
There are a number of mobile parking apps that can help you find garages, lots, and other spots near where you’re going, as well as their prices so you can find the cheapest spot before your trip. Many retailers and restaurants list parking options on their websites. Better yet, take advantage of ride-sharing services such as Lyft (use our promo code CHICKDRIVEN for $50 credit) and enjoy the freedom of not parking.