Today I went to lunch in Century City. When I arrived, there was a new parking policy. No longer is there free parking for three hours. It’s a dollar an hour for the first three hours.
What were they thinking? I know real estate pricing is high. I understand that if they continue to increase rents, more merchants might go out of business. So I guess they figured they’d pass along the cost to their shoppers.
My feeling is they miscalculated on this decision relative to the community-at-large. There are plenty of restaurants in LA; I don’t need to go to the mall to eat at one of its nicer offerings. I stopped going to the movies there if I could help it because 1.5 miles away is an even nicer movie complex with free parking. (As you can see, movie parking is 5 hours for $4.) Further, I’m a committed online shopper, so now they’ve given me one less reason to shop in person.
This is a vicious circle: I want to support local jobs, but they’re making it harder. I’m really not that cheap, but this mall has “stuck” me with $9 parking bills in the past when movies have run long – my guard is already up with them. The only thing this mall has going for it is Sephora, where I like to browse.
I know this is extremely anecdotal and personal. So, being the researcher that I am, I interviewed my lunch server about the new parking policy and she commented that others had negative comments. I suggested they monitor their dinner traffic pre- and post the adoption of the new parking policy to see how traffic falls off (if it does). I don’t think it’ll impact lunch sales (Century City is essentially a large business park), but for dinner, my best guess is that it will have a negative impact.
As an outsider, it feels like Westfield was trying to be sensitive to its merchants, but was thinking more about short-term profits than its relationships with its shoppers. Someone in the room should have spoken up and said, “If we’re going to have to charge for parking, let’s create an easy frequent shopper program, where people can earn free parking passes” – or something to take the sting away! I looked and didn’t see they were making that effort.
C’est la vie! Here’s to speed shopping!!