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Parking At The Mall By Smartphone

12/21/2011

Holiday shopping is frenzied this week as just 4 days remain before Christmas. The UPS guys are running hard to keep up with increased volume due in large part from more online shopping and the effectiveness of free shipping incentives.

For the first 44 days of the holiday season, Chase PaymentTech’s Cyber Holiday Pulse Index shows that sales are up 27 percent and transactions are up 38 percent vs. the same period last year. This week, online retailers are attracting customers with heavy promotions focused on ‘Green Monday’ and ‘Free Shipping Friday’. These incentives, combined with looming shipping deadlines, point to the possibility that this week could surpass ‘Cyber Week’ in total sales. While total sales are up, average tickets remain down 8 percent, influenced by strong sales of digital media and lower cost electronics.

If you’re a die-hard, gotta go to the mall kind of shopper there’s the reality of time and inconvenience. Going to the mall can be a real hassle.

The Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, MN is no exception. With 520 stores and 2.7 million square feet of retail space – the MOA can be pretty hectic these last 4 days before Christmas. If you are like me, just getting a parking spot can get you a bit worked up.

MOA has enlisted apps and Twitter to assist with directing would be shoppers to navigate the parking ramps efficiently. If you have a smartphone there is the mobile web app for Mall of America. Under the directions and parking portion of the app you will find live traffic information for the highways surrounding Mall of America and driving directions. To coincide with the Twitter parking updates, the parking portion of the app includes a color system that lays over the parking lots at Mall of America: green is available, yellow is congested and red is busy. There is also an alert icon indicating if there is an accident or construction in a specific area. The Twitter feed seems to be the most popular as it is a source of up-to-the-minute info on parking options or problems.

My goal is to avoid the MOA all together until after the holidays. But it’s good to know that the potential to keep my blood pressure in check before I get into the mall exists is somehow comforting.

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