It’s that time of the year again! Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Between checking everyone off your list and trying to lock down the best deals, it’s not uncommon to feel stressed as you spend these last few months of the year preparing for the gift-giving season.
But there may be one stressor that rises above all during the holidays: traffic and parking. We’re all familiar with the influx of vehicles on the roads this time of year, and as the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday retail sales in November and December will increase compared to 2017, there’s no doubt that lots and streets will be packed.
Research from the NRF also shows that 55 percent of consumers plan to purchase holiday items at department stores. Though online shopping has undoubtedly become more prominent as of late, brick-and-mortar retailers will still experience the busyness you’ve come to expect.
Because the traffic is inevitable, the question becomes: How can cities and retailers best handle the holiday frenzy? Managers and operators must look at their strategy in two parts.
Parking as a Service
As holiday shoppers are likely already on edge as they jump from store to store, it’s critical for retailers to convey that they care about their customers and their parking experience. This involves prioritizing parking as a service rather than simply a necessary function. The same level of service that exists inside the building must extend to the very first moment a customer enters the premises, which is often a lot or garage. A customer’s perception of an overall business is inherently influenced by their parking structure — and even more so during the holidays — making a service-based approach paramount.
Real-time Guidance and Communication
Parking as a Service can be achieved through smart parking management infrastructure and intelligent solutions. Those that harness the power of sophisticated edge computing, deep learning and artificial intelligence can provide drivers with the data they need at the exact time that they need it.
Through the use of smart sensors and LED screens, such as Cleverciti’s CIRC360, drivers can receive not only real-time updates of available spaces, but also guidance that communicates exactly where spaces are located. This extra layer of service can minimize the time spent searching for an open space, especially during the holiday season, when available spots may be few and far between.
While effective parking is the main priority, solutions such as CIRC360 can also display marketing messaging and advertising, which is top of mind this time of year: NRF research also shows 71 percent of respondents picked “sales/price discounts” as the most important factor when choosing to shop a particular retailer.
Though the uptick in traffic during the holiday season is sometimes unavoidable, finding a spot to park while shopping this time of year shouldn’t feel like a burden. Retailers must treat parking as a service of their business and leverage innovative parking management solutions to streamline the process for all involved.