It will take a lot of patience not to lose your cool in the parking lot mayhem of the winter holiday weeks at Garden State's malls and shopping centers.

Nobilior, ThinkStock

Everyone's in a hurry, no one likes a crowd and a quality spot is nearly impossible to come by.

According to John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, your best bet at avoiding crowds in stores and parking lots is Tuesday, Nov. 29. Analysts predict the surrounding Monday and Wednesday will be among the quieter days as well.

The largest (worst) crowds are expected Saturday, Dec. 17.

For the days between, Holub said the best time to hit the stores is mid-afternoon.

Tracy Noble, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, noted many major chains have extended holiday hours in the weeks following Black Friday.

"If you have the option to put it off until late after dinner when things are settled down and everybody else is leaving the stores, you might be better off and find a better parking spot and have a much more calm shopping experience," Noble said.

But these specific time slots aren't always the most convenient. For many, weekends provide the only real opening for putting a dent in the holiday shopping list. And that's when parking lots can be a circus of blowing horns and shouting people.

While it may not be the most convenient route, especially when the lanes are packed with hurried shoppers, Noble said you can save yourself some stress by backing into a spot and not pulling in.

"You want to make sure that you give yourself the best possible vision when you're leaving that spot," Noble said. "This time of year, people are going to be out walking in the lots, they're going to be carrying packages, they will have children in tow."

And to save yourself some time, just park further from your destination, Noble added. It adds a few steps to your walk to and from the car, but those steps may be more enjoyable than stalking shoppers on their way out.

"You definitely want to remember that it is the holiday season; have some patience," Noble said. "At the end of the day, if somebody else gets your parking spot, let it go. It's not worth getting aggravated over."


Contact reporter Dino Flammia at


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