Parking lots in large retail parks typically don’t reap much by way of profits, and with the COVID-19 pandemic meaning that many now sit almost empty, retail landlords are looking for new ways to use those spaces.
A number of shopping malls and parking garages have in recent months opened their spaces to events such as open-air stores, job fairs, drive-through COVID-19 testing centres, drive-in movies and haunted houses. Some are even serving as gathering spots for seniors to play bingo games free to play in the cars. In addition, some parking lots are renting space for companies that need to handle a rise in online shopping deliveries, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
Repurposed parking lots are being used in this way to increase foot traffic and provide new revenue streams while many brick-and-mortar retail outlets are struggling.
For example in Costa Mesa, California, one parking garage landlord has opened several outdoor luxury boutiques on the second floor of his facility in South Coast Plaza. Meanwhile, in Roseville, Minneapolis, parking lots there have been transformed into drive-through haunted houses that aim to provide entertainment for families. The company behind this venture, Flip Phone, said it has sold almost 1,000 tickets at $75 per car. The idea is that families will drive through the haunted house and have some fun, and then stay and grab something to eat or shop at the mall.
“They stay in their cars, and actors come into your window covered in blood, with lighting and sound for about 20 minutes,” said Chad Kampe, founder of Flip Phone, an events organizer usually for indoor entertainment.
Elsewhere, Rob Peters Entertainment hosted a music and bingo event at a community center parking lot in Hamilton, Massachusetts. As people played bingo safely in their vehicles, they were able to listen to their favorite old hits from the 1950s and 1960s on car radios.
“Even though they were 50 feet away, you could hear them singing along,” said Rob Peter, the owner.