As much as I love a good deal, I don’t like spending a lot of time in the store.
I want to get in, get the deal, and get out with as little hassle as possible. I’ve developed a parking lot strategy that may not save money, but it does save me some time.
Parking Lot Strategy
My parking lot strategy is one that I’ve developed after years of shopping, and it works just about anywhere – small local business, grocery stores, shopping malls, or big box stores. Here’s how it works:
Visit the store at off-peak times. Shop during the quietest times of the day. Try to avoid shopping during the noon hour (when people are on lunch breaks), between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. (when people are getting off from work), and mid-day on the weekends, if you can. I find that early morning hours and late evening are the best times to shop as there is significantly less people around. That means less parking lot traffic and less hassle for you!
Avoid parking in the high traffic areas. A lot of folks think it’s best to park closest to the main doors, but if you’re trying to save time, it’s actually the worst place. Why? Because you have to yield to all of the foot traffic between the main doors and those prime parking spots. You’ll find getting in and out of the store parking lot is much easier when you park in the rows before the main doors. See the (poorly drawn) diagram below:
Park near a cart corral. Some people shy away from parking near the cart corral because they’re afraid their vehicle will get banged up by carts. But here’s the thing: People who take the time to put carts away are usually less likely to ram a cart into your door than anyone else. Your car is more likely to be hit by a stray cart if you’re parked far away from a cart corral. Another perk: If you’re parked next to the cart corral, you only have to worry about the cars parked on two sides of you instead of three. And finally, the sooner you can get the cart put away, the sooner you can get home!
Pull through the parking spot. If at all possible, try to park in a spot that allows you to pull all the way through so that the nose of your vehicle is pointing out. You won’t have to worry about backing up in a busy parking lot, which is how most parking lot fender benders occur. And you’ll save time by being able to just pull out from the spot quickly and easily when it’s time to leave.
Notice your location. We’ve all had those moments when we walk out of the store and head immediately in the opposite direction of our car, only to have to backtrack while trying to look cool. Avoid that awkward moment (and wasted steps!) by making sure you remember where you parked. You can snap a photo of a parking lot sign in a busy mall lot, jot it down on a piece of paper, or give the kids the job of remembering.
You’re not going to save a lot of money with this parking lot strategy. (Unless of course, it helps you avoid a car accident in the parking lot). But it will save you time, and that’s time you can spend doing other money-saving things.
Check out our other cheap tricks to help you save time and money and be sure to share your own cheap trick with us. You just might see it end up in a future Cheap Trick post!
Since I adopted my son last year, I park as close to a cart return as possible because it makes things SO much easier. I never thought about your other points.
I’ve been doing this exact strategy for the past few years. So much so, in fact, that my son thinks I have an assigned parking spot at Target (pulled through, next to a cart corral a ways away from the door) that he looks to see if my spot is open or if I need to go to my back up spot! It works very well!!
I’ve been employing the same strategies for a few years now too. Parking next to the cart corral was especially important when my kids were young. I’d grab a cart before heading into the store store to put the infant seat onto or to buckle a little one into. Saves time moving thru the lot and is safer if you have a kid who doesn’t always want to hold hands. Also, it was nice being close to the corral after unloading everything and everyone into the vehicle.
These are great tips!!! Thanks!