Why Walmart is banning RV overnight stays at more stores

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We ran a survey last week, asking readers if they believed Walmart would still allow overnight stays in its store parking lots in five years. More than 5,100 of our readers responded. Fifty-seven percent said, “No,” it would not be allowed.

More than 80 readers left comments. Among them was one by Jim O’Briant, the owner of the website Overnight RV Parking, the most comprehensive source of information about where to stay with an RV for free or less than $20. He also regularly updates his members on Walmarts who stop offering free stays. He wrote:

Ten to 12 years ago about 80% of the Walmarts in the USA and Canada allowed overnight RV parking. Today, it’s about 65%. There are several reasons for this. One significant cause is the behavior of RVers themselves. In literally hundreds of conversations with Walmart managers over the past 12 years, they’ve told me again and again that their issues with RVers are (in no particular order):

(1) Parking overnight without permission.
(2) Parking in the wrong part of the parking lot.
(3) Staying more than one night (in some cases for weeks).
(4) Setting up camping equipment (lawn chairs, BBQ grilles, even inflatable swimming pools) outside their RV.
(5) Leaving trash in the parking lot.
(6) Dumping gray water in the lot or in storm drains (illegal in many places).
(7) Dumping BLACK WATER in storm drains (highly illegal everywhere).

When it comes to preserving the overnight RV parking privilege at retail locations, we are our own worst enemy.

Your comments are invited.

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Engineer
2 months ago

Why should they put up with this “me” generation? I watched an idiot dump his grey tank in the parking lot…when confronted he told me to f….off….after the Sheriff that I called, arrived he denied the stench was from his dumping. Was escorted off the property. No charges filed….

Monica Pearcy
7 months ago

In a safety seminar 2009 Grand National a State Trooper told us that Walmart was safer than a rest area. What we should do was approach or asked to speak to the manager. Tell him you are here to pick up some grocery and would it be Ok to park just overnight. He said if you just buy a tooth brush even it is in good faith. To many people are abusing the privaledge to park there by being thoughtless slobs. Throwing your garbage in a bag out, dumping and other inconsiderate acts. I don’t blame them. If any of you have don this and you know who you are then get the idea they don’t want to deal with this kind of behavior. In Myrtle Beach there was a grouping parked there and tables all over one end of parking lot.
Ning’s and tables

James Ek
7 months ago

RVers are the nicest people in the world! That said, the people who have spoiled our welcome at Walmart are not RVers! Just because they have/use/live in an RV, they are not RVers any more than standing in a garage makes me a car! A true RVer is thoughtful, helpful, considerate, generous and trustworthy. I run into them all the time!

Sometimes I wonder about the excuses Walmart uses to close their lot to trucks and RVs. Perhaps it’s just that it’s one more thing they have to worry about while they work for low wages? My only experience with someone who I know and who has worked at Walmart was that Walmart expects people to work for next to nothing. Some people, thankfully, will work for low wages and next to no benefits. But it’s got to be wearing on one’s soul! And I think that eventually erodes the generous nature of even the meekest of employees. After the 20th cleanup on aisle 9, I might have my nerves worn down to the point that it only takes the sight of an RV in the parking lot to snap that last nerve?

I know I never overnighted in a Walmart parking lot and probably never will. However, I have to say, it’s been good for RVers for some time. It’s sad to see it go. Still, my heart is lightened every time I see a Walmart along my journey. It is a place where I can find a place to stop for a bit; get some supplies; and, if only for an hour, rest before moving on. So thanks, Walmart! It’s been better. But our trips are made easier by your great big lots with room to stop – if only for awhile!

Matt
3 months ago
Reply to  James Ek

You coulda spared us all the whole “oppressed workers” bit.

Regular employees dont make the call as far as overnight parking, that would be the GM.

Kenneth K & Mary Betonte
7 months ago

My husband is a long -haul driver and we also own an RV. Our WALMART is only 3 miles away and because of city ordinances we can’t have our camper nor his Cab in our driveway. For years he has parked in their lot with no issue. Last year we were leaving on vacation and we were stopping to pick up prescriptions at Walmart. His truck was gone. Overnight with no warning they had it towed. We had to return home with our camper and park it until we could find his truck. Close to over 800.00 in fees we had to pay. The new signs stating the ban were not placed when he parked. We not only lost money there we lost our reservation fees for camping. What is so sad is that we have spent thousands of dollars there in the past 15 years. we paid for that parking spot. Walmart does not get it that yes, there are a few inconsiderate RV ers and truckers but the money that these people spend in their stores out weighs that parking spot. How many campers head to the nearest Walmart to buy their products when they reach their destination? Years ago the Walmart’s were all available for a safe stopping point. Think twice before you walk in a Walmart again.

Linda Fredrickson
6 months ago

That’s terrible! The least they could have done is post a warning. My husband drove truck and we always tried to stop at Walmart to shop for food and supplies. We didn’t have too much trouble for a few years (starting in 2001) but eventually, we weren’t even welcome to park and shop. So we drove around back and lined up like we were making a delivery. We drove containers so they weren’t suspicious. We went in through the back of the store, shopped, and got back to our truck without any trouble. We never did try to stay overnight at a Walmart. We got in, got what we needed, and got out. Truckers definitely felt unwelcome. They wouldn’t even let us park on the side roads next to the store.

Carmen B Edelman
7 months ago

Yes, always one bad seed in the crowd. We have never witnessed any wrong doin when parking at Walmart. And we’ve always gone in and talked to manager. And we always get our oil changed there. Think that kinda gives us a foot in the door.

Phil Johnson
7 months ago

The few, the bad and the ugly always ruin it for everyone… be thoughtful of others wherever you stay…

Troy
8 months ago

Blm camping will be next ! Same thing goes on shame !

Allan Newcomb
9 months ago

Its the few that destroy a good thing for the many. If you talk to the trashies, they will tell you that they are either justified in their behavior or ignorant that they are doing anything wrong. They are the people who will soil their own area and complain that nobody cleaned it up, then they leave their garbage behind for all to admire. They are as filthy as homeless people and just as uncaring about anything but themselves.

Bob Weinfurt
8 months ago
Reply to  Allan Newcomb

Most of them are lazy slobs and don’t even really care about themselves.

bob wallace
8 months ago
Reply to  Allan Newcomb

Don’t put Homeless people in the same category as the trashies. They are just trying to survive day to day, where the RV’ers who crap in their own nest are selfish, ignorant and deserve to be booted out wherever they stop.

Matt
3 months ago
Reply to  bob wallace

Know a lot of homeless people do you?

Manuel bonilla
9 months ago

I have been living in my 33 foot RV for well over two years now, neighbors allow me to stay, I in return, keep clean the entire street and sidewalk, I don’t leave trash, drink or have friends over, as opposed to rvers a few blocks away who live like pigs, blocking the sidewalk and storing trash under their rvs. They had an entire two blocks, of free parking, but end up messing their stay, LAPD MOVED IN , kicked them out and the city of los angeles posted no overnight parking, only a few tents remain. But the biggest trash makers are gone, sometimes they park in the same area as I do, but I make sure is for a couple of hours, as my neighboors dont like trash in the area, which is unfortunate, but these RVers scream for it. Sad.

Bob
9 months ago

Yes, rvers abusing things are ruining it for all of us! I’ve witnessed this so many times over decades of travel when all the Walmart locations welcomed you. Not anymore!
Same thing for dispersed camping areas in national forest. People leaving trash everywhere. Using the areas just yards away as toilets and toilet paper all over. Driving not only past signs saying “no motor vehicles past this point”, but often running over the signs. Trying to actually live there. So areas get closed off, and these slobs are probably clueless as to why.

Leslie Kelly
9 months ago

When we stay at a Walmart we do not extend our slides, lower our jacks or unhook our toad. We ask where they would prefer we park and usually shop in the store.
Pull in/Pull out.

Ken Tennis
9 months ago

Never have stayed overnight at a Walmart. Once in a gas station after i asked and once in a closed Lowe’s (for a hurricane) under their portico after I called the local Sheriff and asked if it would be OK since we had evacuated our home. I asked at a Meijer’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan if I could park for a couple hours while I visited with a cousin that lived a few blocks away and I couldn’t get there because of trees. Was told NO, in no uncertain way. I’ve heard that is corporate policy for overnight but a couple hours? There were trucks parked there and some vans that had been there quite a while.

Staci McMahon
9 months ago

It’s always one bad apple to ruin for everyone. How nasty to leave your trash, when you have garbage inside. Also, there’s plenty garbage cans there.

Rick
9 months ago

I used to say “some” but now it’s becoming very very common to see this type of behavior from the “me and I” generations who just frogging don’t care about anyone else but themselves. Most recently in a 4 star resort idiot owner had so many exterior light strung it looked like a carnival turning nighttime into daytime. When folks asked him to turn them off his response was KMA. That night someone cut his 200 feet of LEDs into 12” sections. They left the next morning really upset.

Steve
8 months ago
Reply to  Rick

That was awlful – “wink-wink!”

Ann English
9 months ago

Rver’s bring it on themselves. Your not supposed to throw your trash on the ground or dump your tanks.
Unfortunately some people have no respect for being allowed to stop overnight. It’s really a shame for full time RV travelers. We respect all rules, this is our home and we treat all places and things with respect. So RV travelers blame yourselves for this – it’s your actions that make it hard for people who are respectful of the places we stop overnight or stop for a long period of time.

Dave J
9 months ago

At one walmart here the manager simply got tired of having a paving company come in every month or so to repair the holes punched through his parking lots by motorhomes’ hydraulic jacks.

Tommy Reeves
8 months ago
Reply to  Dave J

Sam Walton would roll over in his grave if he knew that his company Management was not allowing any weary traveler to stop & park at his stores to get a little rest. That’s why the store construction before he passed away had large & easy accessible parking lots. I know that this initially applied for any Trucker but the same was applied to RVers.

As has been stated, it’s the few ruin it for all. When I drove an 18-wheeler & Walmart started restricting parking I asked a manager why. He stated that when a new store was built, the cost had to be amotorized out over 25-30yrs. However, if repairs have to be made because the initial construction was done cheap, the cost can be deducted the very next year.

If jacks have to be used, put a larger pad down underneath it so that it doesn’t sink into the asphalt.

Frank Billington
9 months ago

We have also found that city ordinances sometimes forbid this practice. In some instances, Walmart is part of a mall, and the parking lot is not theirs. The mall authority controls it.

Edward
9 months ago

I would pay the $10.00 and Walmart issue dated window sticker that states its for one night only and they assume no responsibility for you and your rig , just as it is now. Some other common sense rules as well and violators will be asked to leave by law enforcement.
It has to be law enforcement because the people that break these rules are not going to listen to the person who rounds up grocery carts ! Perhaps monies generated by this fee be donated to the Salvation Army in December when the Salvation Army has their ringers out.

Rick
9 months ago
Reply to  Edward

Most are private property and the local police won’t even think about doing what you suggest

Mel Daley
9 months ago

I have noticed a lot of RV Parks have some open space areas without any hookups, more of a storage area. If I’m traveling from Point A to Point B all I want is a SPACE to park overnight! I’d like to see some of these RV Parks to allow parking in their open space areas for one night for a small fee, such as $10. I just want to come in after 6-7pm and I’ll be gone by 8 am!

Dave J
9 months ago
Reply to  Mel Daley

That’s already common at Escapees RV parks. In some it’s just 5 dollars. Or at least it was just a few years ago.

Keith
9 months ago
Reply to  Mel Daley

And then dump tanks and load water, sneak onto an electric site. I see problems with that system.

Diane K.
7 months ago
Reply to  Mel Daley

As a campground owner, accommodating transients, even on a 12-hour basis at, say, $10/night as suggested, is counter cost-effective for numerous reasons:

#1) Not all campgrounds have 24/hr security/check-
in.
#2) It’s likely EVERY camper will utilize the dumping
station on its way out, taxing the onsight sewer
system.
#3) As we all know, SOME inconsiderate campers (as
discussed, regarding Walmart’s Free Parking
limitations) tend to “overstay”
their welcome, and not actually check out on
time.

Although it’s a wonderful concept, and in a perfect world, it might work. But reality dictates actions. And in some geographical areas, it’s too much work with NO rewards, to undersell a campsite…sorry!

Brian
9 months ago

Walmart has no interest in expanding its business into campgrounds. Ever read the various laws regulating campgrounds? Considered the expense of adding required utilities, etc.? Charging a fee makes Walmart or the shopping center owner liable to those laws and regulations. Cruising security around to police casual overnighters creates other liability and legal issues. Our suburban county banned overnight parking in commercial lots. Not much debate as there was more than ample evidence of all the problems outlined in this thread and more. Sadly, a courtesy has been abused.