• Smarking

Real Time Market Observation: COVID-19 Impact on the US Parking Industry

Updated: 5 days ago

50-70%+ commuter activity drop and 95%+ visitor revenue evaporation - $131B parking industry requires Federal Support


The parking industry contributes to the US economy by directly employing 581,000+ employees and producing $131B+ annual revenue. Totaling in 1,345,000 jobs and $261.8B with indirect and induced included, according to the “Quantitative Economics and Statistics (QUEST), Ernst and Young LLP. Parking Industry's Economic Contributions to the US Economy, March 2020. Parking is one of the most important urban mobility infrastructures, facilitating the daily needs of 100MM+ commuters in America everyday.


The majority municipalities and public entities rely on parking taxes and parking revenue to fund many large projects for citizens across the country. Office buildings, shopping centers, CBDs, hospitals, hotels, universities, airports, and many others rely on great parking facilities and services to properly perform their business functions. Parking may be overlooked by a lot of us in our everyday life but it’s extremely important.


Since the outbreak of COVID-19, with the cross-board endeavors of creating social distancing and enabling the slow-down of the virus spread, the parking industry has been hit hard. Many businesses have been under tremendous pressure to survive, and hundreds of thousands of frontline workers are losing jobs. We monitor the real time dynamics of over 2,000 parking facilities across the North America, and have the following observations to help the world quantitatively understand the impact of COVID-19 to parking.


Commuter/monthly parking activities at a total of 541 selected off-street parking garages dropped for 50%-70% in the past few days since the declaration of National Emergency, a sign of social distancing in action cross-board.


Year-Over-Year (YOY) parking activity trend reversed completely before/after the outbreak. Before - there was roughly a 20%+ YOY increase, indicating not only there’s great business growth for parking but likely more Americans are employed to work, while the amount of people who work during the weekend is smaller than on weekdays, there is actually a bigger YOY increase during the weekend.


After, although essential business employees are still driving in, there’s a clear 50%+ drop of activities compared to the same time period of last year.


Visitor/transient parking activities and revenue at a total of 541 selected off-street parking garages dropped up to 95%+ in the past few days since the declaration of National Emergency, an even stronger sign of social distancing in action cross-board.


Year-Over-Year (YOY) parking activity trend reversed before/after the outbreak. Before, there’s a roughly 10% YOY increase, indicating positive growth in American businesses in general. After, in an accelerated manner, visitor parking dropped rapidly from neutral YOY change to near 100%. The early signals can even be observed since Wed Mar 11th.

General activity of parking indicated by the total daily peak occupancy of the 541 selected sample garages across the country show a very clear change of pattern before and after the Friday, March 13th. Before, similar but slightly busier/higher daily peak occupancy in 2020 than 2019. After, total occupancy of parking sites dropped day by day all the way down to less than 10% of the total capacity, indicating a rough 80-90% of total demand losses.

It is clear that:

  1. Social distancing is indicated by parking data across the country to be happening from commuters to visitors all around.

  2. The essential business workers/commuters still do have the need of functioning parking facilities, and a very small number of visitors also use parking facilities, possibly for basic needs such as grocery and pharmacy etc.

  3. Parking industry is heavily hit by COVID-19. Given the current uncertainty regarding the time of the inflection point for virus spread slow-down, businesses in the parking industry would need significant help to continue serving and supporting the communities throughout this difficult time.


For businesses in the parking industry, please take actions NOW to respond to the National Parking Association (NPA)’s urgent call-up and reach out to your Senate connections to help urge on the Federal stimulus package to parking (already in the House Bill!). At the same time, start considering and executing on:

  • Comprehensive expense reduction plans

  • Revenue loss projections and re-budgeting for the upcoming 2-4 quarters

  • Creating innovative demand generation programs, such as flexible/skinny monthly parking program, pre-sale programs, and other incentive programs to position for rapid coming back

Smarking is standing with you and here for you. We launched an offering of free support on above tasks to all industry peers, please simply reach out to community@smarking.com and we’ll make sure to get in touch and help you.


Smarking will continue to watch the situation through real time parking data across the US, and report more detailed observations in the coming days and weeks. Stay safe and well!


About Smarking

Smarking is a San Francisco based tech company serving commercial real estate owners, municipal governments, parking operators, and others to maximize the results for parking assets, business, and services. Empowered by a team of MIT data scientists, urban mobility experts, Silicon Valley software engineers, and business professionals, Smarking’s market leading Business Intelligence (BI) and Yield Management software currently empowers over 2,000 parking locations in the USA and Canada, maximizing parking income, tenant satisfaction, and cost saving. Smarking's newly launched dynamic pricing engine, Automated Yield Management, works on top of Smarking BI and produces 40%-400% online revenue uplifts for parking locations at over 10 US markets in a fully automatic fashion.





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