The Best Place To Park Your Car At Shopping Centres, According To Maths

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If your holiday shopping adventures bring you to your local shopping centre this year, there’s some strategy behind where you park when you get there.

Researchers at Santa Fe University and Boston University looked into where you should park in that crowded parking lot, based on mathematics. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Statistical Mechanics.

The conclusion?

Researchers determined there are three types of parkers:

  • Meek - People who grab the first parking space they find, no matter where it is.

  • Optimistic - People who drive to the entrance of the store they’re visiting then find the closest space to that entrance.

  • Prudent - People who drive past that first space, but then grab the next one they find on their way to the entrance.

According to researchers, the “Prudent” strategy is the best one. Overall, it will cost drivers the least amount of time.

The next best strategy is the “Optimistic” one, followed by the “Meek” option.

Of course, holiday shopping in an animal all of its own, so if you see a spot the second you drive into that crowded parking lot it can be tempting to just go ahead and snag it. Researchers say you’re by in large likely to find another one; however, close to the door, so it might be in your best interest to hold out hope and drive a little further in before you commit to that far away space.

The research does prove that “rockstar” parking upfront is probably unlikely; however, so you’ll save yourself some time grabbing that second space you see and walking to the door instead.


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