How to score the best parking spot at a crowded mall

There's actually a science to it.

CLEVELAND -- If you're heading to the malls this weekend, good luck finding a parking spot.

That frustration alone may be why a lot of people shop online these days. Because before you begin your hunt for deals, you have to hunt for that parking spot.

Psychologists studying parking behaviors found there are some "spot finding" strategies, which will keep the search from driving you crazy.

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The last thing you want to see is a packed parking lot when pulling into the mall to do your holiday shopping, but it's the reality this time of year. So we relied on a little science, which there actually is when it comes to tips for scoring a parking spot.

Tip 1: Pick a row
Instead of looking for the "best" spot, enter any row and park in the first "available" spot -- even if it's far away. You'll get to the store faster, says Andrew Velkey. He’s an associate professor of psychology at Christopher Newport University in Virginia who studied the goings on at a suburban Wal-Mart parking lot.

Tip 2: Sit and wait
Instead of wasting time driving up and down every single row, a better strategy is to patiently wait for someone else to leave. People who use a sit-and-wait strategy invested 8-12 minutes,
but they almost always got a parking space.

Tip 3: Look to to the sides
Most people will try to park in the row directly in front of the store door no matter how far away the space is. Consider parking one or two rows away and you very well may end up closer.

Tip 4: Don't be pushy
If you're waiting for someone's space, don't be aggressive. People can treat a spot as their territory.
Velkey found if a driver saw someone waiting for spot they tended to take longer to leave -- especially if you throw shade or honk.

Once you find that spot, stay in your lane or you might end up the target of other drivers who get pretty testy when you take up more than one space.

Holiday parking can also be dangerous. A study last year by the National Safety Council says, on average, 60,000 people are injured in parking lot accidents every year. So slow your roll out there, to get all that shopping done safely.

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