Do Higher Gas Prices Affect Our Business? PT Readers Say NO!
Higher gas prices have not affected the parking industry in any significant way. That's the finding of a poll done by Parking Today during November 2004, at the peak of the most recent gas price hikes.
The unscientific poll was done by email. We sent out about 1,500 emails to commercial operators, colleges, universities, cities, airports and developer/owners across the country. We received nearly 200 replies.
The vast majority (more than 90%) said there had been no reduction in parking activity due to the increases in gasoline pricing. The one surprising result of the poll was that 12% of the respondents volunteered that their business was up, in some cases substantially, over the period.
A number of the replies pointed out that the increases (and some of the decreases) may have to do with the "micro economic" factors that affect parking on a regular basis. These might include a large tenant moving in or out, or a long string of heavy weather.
The increases may be due to a couple of years of down activity and the upswing reflecting a return to normal economic activity. This may be particularly relevant in hard-hit areas over the past couple of years such as San Francisco.
A number of respondents noted that while gas prices hadn't affected their parking revenues, the cost of doing business -- particularly for those with shuttle operations -- had skyrocketed. One airport parking manager noted that their shuttle expenses had risen so much that they had been forced to add a surcharge of $1 per car in the lots that used shuttles.
Another pointed out that, with the gas price increases, they were having to rethink the amount they paid per mile for employee reimbursement.
One manager in the SF Bay Area noted that "while we are seeing a modest overall upward direction in demand, we are still facing other issues that have a more telling impact, such as security limiting access to various on-site commercial locations so that many 'meeters and greeters' are not parking to pick up or drop off their travellers. As a side effect, we believe that this is aided by the ever more pervasive use of cell phones to arrange curbside pick-up/drop off."
He noted that his comments were based strictly from observation and had no scientific basis.
And finally, Sara Madden, of Merit Parking in Fort Worth, reports that there has been "no noticeable difference here, and Texans still seem to love their big gas-guzzlin' pickups ..."
93% Say High Gas Prices Have Had No Effect on Business
No Effect: 81%
No Effect and Business Up: 12%
Some Effect: 7%
Article Abstract from January, 2005