'Tis the Season for Abundant Parking

On what is arguably a peak parking day, parking lots around the country still had plenty of space.

Read Time: 1 minute

December 5, 2018, 5:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Mall Parking Lot

Andre Manoel / Flickr

Laura Bliss reports that the overabundance of parking in the United States is never more apparent than on Black Friday, when consumers in theory are out in full force with the parking lots to accommodate them. But parking minimums have resulted in a sea of parking around retail establishments, and much of it sits empty, says Bliss:

As Strong Towns noted, a lot of those lots weren’t filled on Friday, either. The urban planning blog is in its sixth year of #BlackFridayParking, a photo contest that calls attention to the surfeit of vacant spots, mostly in smaller cities and suburban communities, on the big shopping day. Caveat: Plenty of urban parking lots around the U.S. were packed. But as the hashtag makes clear, many more were half-empty.

As online shopping continues to grow, the vision of a Black Friday onslaught and the cars it brings becomes less of a reality.

Donald Shoup has written extensively about parking minimums and the additional costs that are bundled into housing and goods. "For communities, big-box-style retail has never been much of a bargain—and now, for so many reasons, it’s even less of one," concludes Bliss.

There's also this key statistic, wrapping the whole situation up in a Christmas bow: "The United States has as many as two billion parking spots for about 250 million cars," writes Bliss. 

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