COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY IT’S STILL BLACKTOP FRIDAY ” . . . It’s quite obvious [anti-parking activists] are against the massive amounts of concrete used in most suburban developments that are sitting empty and unused — dying and mediocre shopping strips being the main culprits. Point being, if these outlets can’t fill these huge parking lots to the brim on what is considered the busiest shopping day of the year, then what use are all of these parking lots for? They are ugly and a waste of space. For example, the parking lot at the new Buc-ee’s in Texas City is atrociously too big and wasteful, as I never see it used to capacity. But I guess Texans would rather look at seas of empty, littered concrete slabs than what could be left as natural or landscaped.” [Eddie, commenting on Second Life for Downtown’s Melrose Building; Where the Most Expensive Homes in Houston Are] Illustration: Lulu
The parking lots probably filled up regularly when these dying shopping centers were fresh and new. I’ve heard of lots of reasons for shopping centers going downhill – changing neighborhood demographics, more competition from newer malls, anchor tenants folding – but having “too much parking” isn’t one of them.
Yes I never understood why Walmarts and Buccees have such huge and half empty lots! Like why destroy all that natural environment or buy all of that unnecessary land that’s going to now go unused for decades!
These are all feeder road stores, I can assure everyone that no natural/native environments are being destroyed for the purposes of a big box store parking lot. Besides, buying oversized parcels and throwing down huge parking lots improves perception of a stores capacity and I’d be quite certain would be statistically proven to increase a stores sales revenue….and thus you have Bucees.
I recall from my marketing class that it is important for a business to have ample of empty parking space to appear not too busy and inviting. This is especially important in Texas where we believe if I can’t park in the first few rows, I ain’t going. Buccee’s ginormous parking lot makes a marketing statement that they are very popular, they can handle a lot of customer volume, and are easy to get in and out. And the fact that the parking lot is usually only 30% full says that “oh they’re not too packed, let me go ahead and stop in”, even though inside could be packed wall to wall with people.
The wide open parking lot does seem to say, “We’re more than ready to receive you” from retailers that want to have an image as “convenient.” In other situations, the tighter parking supply seems to communicate, “This is a popular place where many people like you find happenings worth attending.” CityCentre and Rice Village seem to be examples of the second category.
What I suspect – big empty parking lots focus more attention on the storefront, acting as an attention grabber. Retail folks are obsessive about visibility.
What I know – banks and insurers often require huge lots to approve construction loans, both on account of the capacity concerns, and because it’s improved land that nevertheless costs very little to maintain, increasing property value quite a bit compared to investment.
Not me. When I see an expansive and empty parking lot in front of a mall, I see a depressed and dying mall. That might not be the case but that’s my perception. I’d rather spend some time looking for a space than feel like I’m walking into a museum of 1980’s style consumerism.
My presumption is usually that it’s a combination of wishful thinking, lending requirements, and perhaps more importantly, regulatory requirements. Given the choice between using more square footage for inventory space vs. parking, I would suspect that most business would choose products over pavement.
I’m a Houston native, so it’s rare that I drive someplace with full (or even seemingly full) parking lots. The last example I can think of is the Houston Zoo. Fifteen years ago I used to take my daughter to the zoo all the time. We always found parking without too much trouble. But then they started fixing up the zoo and the park, and there were days when all of the parking lots were full. So we stopped going to the zoo. I bet I would do the same if the parking lot at Target ever filled up. I don’t have a lot of spare time to spend circling parking lots, and there are other places I can shop.