Local Emporiums Know Well the Value of Parking

Finding parking place in a city like Shanghai is akin to searching for solitude in a crowded shopping mall. In fact, with the streets jammed with illegally parked vehicles, some even encroaching on sidewalks, it's little wonder driving has become a tiresome chore.

But leave it to savvy retailers to use the motorists' plight to their own ad-vantage.

Local department stores are offering low parking fees, even free parking, to entice customers and thereby boost their sales.

At the end of last year, there were some 706,000 registered vehicles in Shanghai. Another 50,000 or so pour in every day from neighboring cities. Yet, there is space for only 386,800 cars, apart from a few thousand legal roadside parking spots.

The malls are obviously taking ad-vantage of this shortfall while solving the vexing problem.

Amid cut-throat competition, several plazas in the city's major shopping areas are trying to beat competition by charging as little as 5 yuan (60 US cents) per hour in parking fees.

Among them are Grand Gateway Plaza in the Xujiahui area and three up-market emporiums on Nanjing Road W. - Citic Square, Plaza 66 and Westgate Mall.

The Shanghai Price Bureau, the local price regulator, said fees can range from 1 yuan to 11 yuan per hour depending on the parking lot's location and facilities, while overseas-invested lots can fix the price on their own.

A telephone survey by Shanghai Daily found that a majority of shopping centers on Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road and in Xujiahui area charge 10 yuan or more, while the parking fee in five-star hotels like JC Mandarin and Portman Ritz-Carlton is 20 yuan per hour.

"Our shopping center mainly targets cash-heavy consumers, including an increasing number of wealthy businessmen from neighboring cities, many of whom drive to the mall," said Liu Shenkang, public affairs manager of Shanghai Hang Bond Property Development Co Ltd, the developer of Plaza 66.

The purchasing volume of these riders is usually 20 percent to 30 percent higher than normal customers.

In addition, parking fees have become a new source of revenue for retailers.

"The daily income of our parking lot is between 14,000 yuan and 15,000 yuan, compared to 7,000 yuan before," said Zhou Jianlun, spokesman for Shanghai Kong Hui Property Development Co Ltd, which operates China's largest mall, Grand Gateway Plaza.

However, some emporiums even provide "free" parking.

Huijin Department Store offers free one-hour parking for shoppers who spend 200 yuan, and the more they spend, the longer they can park.

The 20 clients in Metro Tower have promised to reimburse parking fees for customers shopping in their stores.

All these malls have seen an increase of 20 percent to 40 percent in sales.

"Favorable parking fees will not only boost the sales of the shop itself, but also attract more people to areas like Nanjing Road W. and propel the whole sector upwards," said Chen Huiquan, deputy director of Jing'an District's Economic and Trade Commission.

( easteday.com March 7, 2002)

Shanghai Shopping Streets in Makeover Contest

Shanghai Opens Asia's Biggest Shopping Mall

Parking Lots Cleaned Up at Pudong Airport