Parking spaces are the latest “hot commodity”. With over 800 million parking spaces (not counting residential parking), you can see why there are so many different types of parking signs. Each day brings new designs. Parking signs, after all, reflect changes in our culture and regulations. The 70’s brought great awareness of the importance of clear access to fire and emergency equipment. The 80’s and 90’s
Some of the most notable trends are listed as follows:
Hybrid Car Parking Signs
In the 70’s- 90’s a corporation or mall might reserve a few spots for carpool vans or expecting mothers. But, as priorities and market forces have changed, reserved parking signs for hybrid or fuel efficient vehicles have become top sellers.
Bicycle Parking Signs
Another, parallel trend towards “green transportation” has been the explosion of bike paths and convenient parking for bikes, scooters and motorcycles. Along with these signs have been restrictions on car parking on bike routes and bike traffic signs.
Doctor’s Parking Signs
This may be a function of more and more doctors working at clinics (and not out of a smaller office), but the number of signs sold that reserve spaces for various types of physicians have exploded. Of course, as doctors are compressing the time available for any one patient and must dash from one clinic to the next, any advantage that they can get with an advantageous parking spot is gladly accepted.
Award Parking Signs
Everyone deserves recognition at some point. Parking signs have caught up this trend. Whether you are the employee, salesperson or teacher of the month, the honor is increasingly presented as a sign or as special parking privileges.
Parking Spaces Are Increasingly Valuable
“Free parking – there is no such thing!” Along with greater awareness of the true costs of “free parking”, has a large scale movement towards gated lots, lots controlled by parking permits, numbered reserved parking spaces – all coupled with ever more aggressive towing enforcement.
Retail owners now understand the importance of convenient parking. By reserving close-in spots for best customers, they are only doing what retailers have been doing since Roman times – clustering along the major transportation routes and making it easy for customers to “drop in”. Similarly, restaurants, stores or Shopping Center, all realize that the “easier it is to park”, the “more successful they will be”.
Other sign trends resulting from an increasing premium on parking spaces have been:
Increase in Parking Sign Customization
Personalization is the catchword. Everyone wants their own parking spot. From the “President” to the “Parent with a Small Child”, everyone wants a sign recognizing their status and special parking privileges.
The trend has been to offer more choice - all at lower and lower pricing. The Amazon business model has invaded the parking sign market!
Growth in Internet Ordering
A parallel trend has been an explosion in the number of companies selling parking signs. Before, it took a good deal of craft to make a durable sign. County and city-owned sign shops dominated the industry. Now, with the costs of digital printing declining, more and more local printers are printing signs and consider parking signs a nice market enter. This major trend has shaken up the industry.
What has gone right? Prices have lowered, signs are delivered more quickly and anyone can easily design a custom parking sign. In the 1990’s a property owner typically bought parking signs from a mail order firm or the local electrical distributor – and paid over $40 for an reflective aluminum parking sign. That same buyer, today, can buy that same official sign for great deal less – often $15.00 to $20.00. Moreover, this same buyer now expects to receive their signs immediately. Compared to signs ordered in the past, buyers receive signs in a few days (and not in a few weeks).
What has gone wrong? Not every local sign shop should be printing parking signs. Most digital printing presses are not suitable for parking signs. Colors don’t match. The reflective warranty is no longer valid. Fonts and designs are not approved. For property owners, the downside is that many signs are installed that could, in a number of scenarios, result in needless liability.
Brighter & More Durable Materials
During the 80’s and 90’s the trends were to reflective films on parking signs. The more recent trends are towards making parking signs ever brighter. There is more visual clutter (more signs, more ads, more bright lights) than ever before and that means, to stand out and be seen, a parking sign needs to be brighter. A further factor is the aging of the average driver. Older drivers need brighter signs. With each ten years of age, you need a factor greater of retro-reflectance.