Paying for parking at mall will irk and reduce shoppers

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

On Tuesday last, we stopped at the MultiPlaza in Escazú for lunch in the course of running errands elsewhere in the neighborhood. As we pulled into the parking lot, it was apparent that the shopping center’s management is about to begin charging for that open air parking as they do for covered parking. The gate arm apparatus and the machines where drivers must pay are all in place.

This is an aggravating development. Above-ground parking has always been free at the MultiPlaza, as it is almost everywhere else, including at competitors’ locations. To begin charging creates an incentive not to patronize the mall and its tenant businesses. While there are a few stores and restaurants that are unique to the marketplace, they are not important enough to us to be irritated by the need to fool with the payment system or to stand the additional expense.

It’s my understanding that the first hour of parking will be free, which should allow time for a quick lunch, but but not a leisurely one, but the cost thereafter, however small, will discourage strolling the mall and the resultant impulse purchases. What’s more, even if our parking is free, we still have to locate and deal with the payment terminal.

I have no idea what the profitability of the MultiPlaza is to its owners, but the decision to charge for parking is unlikely to make up for the traffic that will certainly be lost.

David C. Murray
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