Perhaps the worst side effect of what should be a joyous holiday season is the aggravating search for a parking spot.

Select malls throughout New Jersey are attempting to relieve some of your symptoms by offering smartphone apps that can get you into a space more quickly.

At the state's four malls owned by General Growth Properties — Bridgewater Commons, Paramus Park, Willowbrook Mall and Woodbridge Center — app users can browse the parking lots and see which areas offer the best shot at finding a spot. The heat map format tells shoppers which lots are currently experiencing high usage.

The app also predicts parking availability for future dates. If you plan to head to one of the malls on Saturday afternoon, the app can tell you — level by level — which lots will likely be more nightmarish than the others.

At Westfield Garden State Plaza, shoppers who download the MyPark app can reserve one of 33 spaces in Deck B between AMC and Neiman Marcus. The program launched at the end of November.

MyPark

The reserved spots, an alternative to valet parking, are equipped with barriers that can tell when you and your app are approaching. At that point, the barrier folds down, you park and you have a quick walk into the mall.

When you pull out, the device rises into its original position and blocks other drivers until the next reservation is made.

"We haven't had any issues with it whatsoever and it's a very convenient amenity for our customers who want the ease of guaranteeing a parking space during busy times," said senior general manger Bryan Gaus.

But that convenience comes with a fee — $10 for the first four hours and $5 for each hour after, Gaus said.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.