There are in total 44 target stores in New Jersey. Heck, I spend five on my daily commute to/from work.

For this article, I focus specifically on a location, on Route 1 North in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick. Like many Target locations, this store just underwent a huge renovation. It is now brighter, more open, more modern, hipper, fresher, etc.

Also, on a recent visit, I noticed a confusing new addition to the parking lot.

The red paint is practically still wet on these brand new Target Drive-Up parking spots. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
The red paint is practically still wet on these brand new Target Drive-Up parking spots. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)

Since the launch of Target’s Drive-Up service in 2018, it has become very popular. (Especially given the increase in curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.) While the quality can sometimes be iffy, I found this to be a quick and easy way to shop. (When the app is working properly and has enough staff, that is.)

And this is where the big change comes to play. The Monmouth Junction store is not only moving its designated pick-up points, but expanding them as well. Highligths.

Imagine you pull into the parking lot to pick up your order and you’re the 24th customer in line. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
Imagine you pull into the parking lot to pick up your order and you’re the 24th customer in line. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)

24 parking spaces reserved for Drive-Up orders! Triple their previous capacity!

Former/current Drive-Up spots. Only 8 of them, located much further from the store’s customer service center. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
Former/current Drive-Up spots. Only 8 of them, located much further from the store’s customer service center. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)

I’ve never seen more than one or two other cars pick up at this Target store at the same time. Maybe it gets busier at certain times of the day or at certain times of the year (i.e. Christmas). But at first glance, that seems like a ton of extra capacity. Exaggerated?

A line of the most convenient locations in the entire Target parking lot is now reserved for curbside pickup. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
A line of the most convenient locations in the entire Target parking lot is now reserved for curbside pickup. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)

Let’s think about Why they would spend so much time, money, real estate and red paint to add all these Drive-Up spaces. I see four possibilities:

1.) Their parking lot is big enough, so why not.

2.) People – inconsiderate, busy, oblivious or otherwise – will park in Drive-Up spots to make “normal in-person” purchases. So the store decided to build enough extras to accommodate all “legitimate” order pickups.

3.) Target has promoted that they are increasing the availability of fresh groceries for pickup service. More people are doing their usual weekly grocery shopping there, which means they need more pick-up slots. (A smart and strategic move, since Monmouth Junction Target now shares parking with a Lidl and Shop Rite.)

4.) Starbucks. In one February 2022 press release, Target announced that “the company will begin testing the option for customers in select markets to add a Starbucks order or make a return as part of Target’s free, contactless curbside service through the Target app. “. Ah-ha – you can easily see how two dozen parking spaces would be needed for a morning rush of caffeine- and sugar-crazed Starbucks fans.

I contacted the Target PR team for comment regarding my observations, but received no response.

Whether or not you like online ordering and curbside pickup, it’s clear that this type of shopping is the way of the future. I applaud Target and other retailers for thinking outside the box and pushing the boundaries of technology.

But the next time I’m having trouble finding a free parking spot at Monmouth Junction Target? I will not be a happy camper.

Dan Zarrow is chief weatherman for Townsquare Media New Jersey, and when he’s not shopping till he drops, he can be heard on your radio any day of the week. Follow him on Facebook Where Twitter for the latest weather news and forecasts.

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