Pagano, a former math teacher, has come up with a solution—a formula that can benefit drivers hoping to stake out that perfect spot near the mall entrance. His recommendation: Rather than circle the lot, idle in an aisle where you can see 10 spaces ahead of you on either side (20 total). Given the average holiday shopping trip duration of 77 minutes, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of those 20 spots should open up in 3.85 minutes or less of waiting.
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"All distributions, no matter how random, tend toward a bell curve," he said. "I've tested the formula out, and I've never had it fail." (Check out the video above to see how we fared, putting it to the test. Spoiler alert: Holiday drivers are competitive!)
City shoppers may also find free apps like SpotHero, ParkMe and ParkWhiz helpful for finding open spaces in paid lots, and comparing rates, said Brad Spirrison, managing editor for review site Appolicious. Some municipalities also have apps that let you feed the meter from your phone, he said.
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