For many, the elusive search for a prime parking spot at the mall during the holiday shopping season has become one of the most dreaded and aggravating parts of an already stressful time.
It can take relatively sane shoppers and turn them into hunters intent on finding the closest spot or transform soccer moms into stalkers following anyone leaving with a bag. But experts say the circling and frustration is rarely worth the result, or assault, in some cases.
According to the Wall Street Journal, research shows that most mall lots are only 30 to 35 percent full, the real reason that parking turns competitive is that people don't want to walk.
However, there is a mathematical salve for our parking pain and it starts with a bell curve.
Using hundreds of satellite images, the consulting firm Remote Sensing Metrics discovered that spaces close to the entrance are filled first and that spaces are often open between entrances - which leaves you with that nuisance called walking.
Luckily, there is another option. Mathematically, if you hover near a primo spot with 20 or more spaces in front of you there is a high probability that one will open up within about nine minutes.
Now with a little science on your side, hopefully you can avoid the shopping rush in the streets. The stores are still another story.