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Shoppers Walk Further Than Workers When It Comes to Parking

Parking Today reports on a curious piece of information from a parking study conducted by a California town:

… TJKM uncovered in a survey that asked business owners, their employees and customers the greatest distance they would be willing to walk from a parking space to their destination. Business owners and their staffs said zero to 900 feet, “with an average of 375 feet or slightly more than one city block,” TJKM’s report says. Customers, meanwhile, said they’d walk “100 to 1,500 feet … for an average of approximately 600 feet.”

Something to consider when you hear, as one often does, that introducing dynamic, occupancy-based parking meters and the like in downtowns or shopping streets will hurt business because shoppers won’t be able to find anywhere to park. Often the reason shoppers can’t find anywhere to park is that business owners and employees have commandeered the best spaces. As PT notes, in shopping malls store employees are typically prohibited from parking in the spaces closest to the mall.

Why would shoppers report a greater willingness to walk? I would guess because shopping trips are less frequent, and thus people are more willing to put up with a longer walk (not to mention that they probably have less information about available spaces).

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This entry was posted on Sunday, April 18th, 2010 at 7:01 am and is filed under Parking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Shoppers Walk Further Than Workers When It Comes to Parking”

  1. Dbratland Says:

    The surveys for businesses and shoppers are over at the Vacaville Public Works Department. There are two PDF forms they ask participants complete and mail or fax back, which is a lot more effort than just answering questions the way a real scientific poll would be conducted.

    It’s really just one of those unscientific self-selected survey, representing people who are highly motivated to express their opinions for whatever reasons.

    The parking blog also fails to report what distance business owners wanted their customers to walk, comparing only the different set of responses from the customers. I would bet the business owners said they would like the customers to walk even less than 375 feet. The survey is a wish list, after all. It did not ask how far staff and customers actually walked, only how far the business owner wanted them to walk.

    The consultants apparently did their own data collection as well. It would be interesting to compare the responses people chose to send in with the actual data on the ground.

  2. Marcus Says:

    People who are shopping are ready to walk anyway as part of that activity. Except for Christmas, where a person will drive around the parking lot for 15 minutes trying to get a spot 50 feet closer to the door before they walk around the mall for 4 hours.

    By contrast, people at work are wearing dress clothes and, more importantly, dress shoes.

  3. JamesR Says:

    Yeah, this is a universal phenomenon, part of Parking Management 101. Employees are humans too, and as humans, they will seek to maximize their convenience by taking up the closest spaces upon arrival to work in the morning, while the customers get to fight over the scraps for the rest of the day. Small business owners tend to be blind to the obvious negative ramifications of this, sadly.

  4. SteveK Says:

    Shopping is largely considered an enjoyable thing to do, while work is, well, work. Who wouldn’t walk a bit farther for a fun activity?

  5. JohnB Says:

    Of course the best parking spaces should be reserved for the shoppers. Retail workers who care about customer service would park further away if the store owners and managers led by example.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

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