The turkey may still be the main attraction of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but for many the lure of “Black Friday” deals and discounts runs a close second. Last year, approximately 212 million people headed out to the malls on Black Friday.
“While the throngs of shoppers bode well for retailers, the large, deal-hungry crowds create significant challenges–especially when it comes to parking,” says Shawn Conrad, executive director of the International Parking Institute (IPI), the largest association of parking professionals.
Conrad and members of IPI offer the following tips for shoppers:
1) Exercise Caution When Backing Out. 25 percent of parking lot accidents are caused by backing moves. Watch for other drivers and pedestrians.
2) Obey the Law. Obey posted speed limits and stop signs, and reserve handicapped spots for disabled users. Drive slowly and remember to signal.
3) Keep Your Headlights On. Using your headlights can reduce your crash risk, even in the daytime.
4) Get Your Exercise. Choose a parking space farther away from the building. Fewer people want to park in distant spaces, so there is much less hassle.
5) Follow Etiquette Basics. When waiting for a spot, do not block other parking space seekers. Once parked, center your vehicle and pull all the way into the space. Also, remember to return shopping carts to designated cart corral areas.
6) Be a Mindful Pedestrian. Parking lot etiquette also applies to pedestrians. Do not walk in the middle of the lane, refrain from texting while walking, and avoid jaywalking–instead use marked pedestrian crosswalks.
7) Watch for Small Children. Children can be hard to see in busy parking areas and often make sudden, unpredictable moves. Keep a close eye on any children with you and look out for others as well.
8) Buckle Up and Be Patient. Even low speed collisions can result in injuries. Resist the temptation to honk the horn (or worse). Showing grace instead of anger prevents reciprocal aggression.
9) Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings. Park in well-lit areas and always make sure you’ve rolled up your car windows and locked your doors. Have your keys out and ready when returning to your car.
10) Time Yourself. If you park at a metered spot, note the expiration time and plan to return a few minutes early, setting an alarm as a reminder. Some on-street spaces now offer the ability to extend your parking time remotely through your mobile phone.
The parking industry, which has changed dramatically in the past few years with new technologies to make it easier to find, reserve and pay for parking, is committed to customer service, and a great deal of planning goes into maximizing parking spaces and minimizing problems at this time of year.
But the nation’s estimated 100 million parking spaces are in high demand this season and as Conrad says, “Allowing a little extra time to park during the holidays may be the best strategy of all.”