Holiday Parking Strategies for Shoppers

By Jeffrey SteeleLifestyle and

Finding the perfect present at a great price may make you feel merry and bright, but scoring a parking spot during the holiday shopping season more likely brings out your inner vulture, stalker or thief, according to's parking lot personalities survey.

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We asked 2,000 drivers which parking spaces they prefer in a crowded lot during the holiday season, what strategy they use to park in crowded lots, what's gone wrong and what they do during parking lot confrontations.

The survey reveals the most popular strategies for getting a desirable parking spot are:

  • The vulture: You circle the lot at least twice before deciding where to park: 38%.
  • The stalker: You follow people with bags or shopping carts and wait for them to load and leave: 24%.
  • The quitter: You leave if the parking lot is crowded and has few open spaces: 10%.
  • The thief: You'll cut someone off to get their spot: 3%.
  • The sherpa: You'll straddle your car on top of snow banks to fit in spaces others won't dare to use: 3%.
  • Other: 23 percent.

The strategies above for finding a spot didn't vary significantly by gender. However, when it comes to getting into the parking spot, men were more likely to get creative:

  • Average Joe: You just try to get in the middle of the lines: 65%. (Women: 73%; Men 58%.)
  • The planner: Parks only in spaces where car can face out because much easier to pull out than back out: 20%. (Women: 19%; Men 21%.)
  • The perfectionist: No less than 5 moves to get into the space - it takes a long time to get it just right: 6%. (Women: 4%; Men 8%.)
  • The homecoming queen/king: You park at an angle over two spaces: 4%. (Women 2%; Men 7%.)
  • The optimist: Even though not enough room to open your car door, you squeezed in there anyway: 4%. (Women: 2%; Men 6%.)

Ivan Drury, senior analyst with in Santa Monica, California, says holiday stress amps up tension and leads to curmudgeonly behavior in parking lots. "You have the holiday multiplier of high stress, limited time and conflicting interests, depending on who is in the vehicle with you.  You're under the gun to get things done and make everything happen all at the same time," he says

"The holiday spirit goes out the door -- people see a parking spot and go for it,” says Drury “Or you see a shopper walking out with all their packages, and hope they don't put all the packages in the car and head back to the store, in which case you explode.  If that parking spot disappears, you'll have to drive around for another five or 10 minutes in the parking lot.”

Most coveted parking spots, most frequent calamities

Holiday shoppers have visions of the perfect parking spot in their heads when faced with a crowded lot. Here are the spots drivers say they prefer:

  • Zen Master: You take whatever is available closet to the store: 48%
  • The high plains drifter: You park farthest from the store in order be away from other cars and traffic: 31%
  • The O.K. Corral: You park near a cart corral so you don't have to walk far to return your cart: 18%
  • Make-your-own: You park in a space close to the store that's not a parking spot: 3%

"I've even seen people park on the little islands where they have some nice plants," Drury says.

Among drivers who have experienced a  parking lot confrontation, using a hand gesture was the favorite form of expression, and men were more likely than women to act out:

Some shoppers will take their business elsewhere if the parking options aren't up to snuff. The following percentage of people say they would avoid a store if it had only:

  • Metered parking: 54%
  • Parallel parking: 32%
  • Parking garage: 13%

Parking lot accidents and car insurance

Shoppers may know who on their gift list has been naughty or nice, but few are aware of how car insurance can help keep your holiday happy if you have a parking lot accident, according to the survey. Only 39 percent of drivers surveyed correctly chose liability insurance as the coverage that pays for the damage to the other car in an at-fault accident. Thirty-eight percent realize collision coverage pays for damages if you hit a pole. And when it comes to having gifts stolen from a parked car, 51 percent incorrectly believe comprehensive insurance will reimburse you; just 20 percent got this right by knowing homeowners or renters insurance pays out for items stolen from your car.

Methodology commissioned an online-panel survey of 2,000 licensed drivers age 25 or older, half men and half women and distributed across the U.S. according to Census population data. The survey was fielded in September 2014.

The original article can be found at parking strategies: Drivers can be vultures