Are shoppers ready to pay to park at the mall?
MyPark, an app that enables shoppers to reserve parking spots, is reportedly signing up malls at a rate of two per month, including the recent addition of Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and The Florida Mall. But a New York Post article, “Shopping malls want to make you pay for prime parking spots,” implied that not everyone is happy about it.
In the article, the writer Lisa Fickenscher describes charging for parking as a “rather odd marketing plan” given brick & mortar retail’s steady loss of traffic to online commerce.
MyPark enables parking spaces, often near the entrance or by popular restaurants, to be booked on demand or reserved in advance for $3 for up to two hours and $3 for each additional hour. Some places charge more, such as Mall of America which asks for $6 for the first two hours. Empty spots are protected by a four-foot-tall metal barrier that lowers when activated by the smartphone app.
In an April press release announcing a $2.1 million round of financing, Luis Mayendia, CEO, said that since launching in 2016, MyPark has been downloaded by thousands “to eliminate the headaches and wasted time of trying to find a parking spot.”
Consumers can reserve spaces six months in advance, and Mr. Mayendia told the Post that reservations are already being made for Black Friday. A two-hour mall visit with MyPark is also considerably less expensive than the valet parking that some malls offer, and shoppers don’t have to hand over their keys and cars, he added.
Competitors include BestParking, Parker, ParkMe, ParkWhiz and SpotHero, although many of these apps focus on urban markets.
Simon Property Group took a low-tech approach in introducing Parking Made Easy at several of its malls earlier this year. Shoppers pay $5 to a uniformed attendant at the entrance for a reserved spot close to the mall.
Parking Made Easy is finding skeptics, as well. When introduced to Pennsylvania’s Ross Park Mall in early May, shopper Kate Alsaihati told WPXI.com, “If it’s $5 or $10, I probably wouldn’t use that. I would rather drive around for 10 minutes, honestly, than pay for parking.”
- Shopping malls want to make you pay for prime parking spots – New York Post
- MyPark Secures $2.1 Million Seed Financing Round from Local and Nationwide Investors – MyPark
- Ross Park Mall to offer premium paid parking – WPXI.com
- Parking Made Easy! – Simon Property Group
- ParkMobile Reservations Now Available at New Brunswick Parking Authority Facilities – ParkMobile
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see paid parking services as a net positive or negative for malls and retailer tenants? How can malls assure the broadest appeal of such services for consumers?