The Super-Easy Way to Figure Out When Your Grocery Store Is the Least Busy

updated Sep 9, 2021
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In the olden days (when B.C. stood for something other than “Before Coronavirus”), going to the grocery store at an inopportune time was simply a drag. If you chose to go at peak hours, you might find aisles to be jam-packed, clusters of people gathered at the deli and bakery counters, and lines snaked around the store’s perimeter in anticipation of checkout. Was it obnoxious and inconvenient? Yes. But an over-crowded grocery store was never considered a public health risk. Of course, now, the answer to that question is very different.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen grocery stores implement all sorts of increased safety precautions to protect both workers and shoppers. It’s less common these days to show up to the supermarket to find a socially distanced line of mask wearers extending well beyond the store’s entrance. Though, for some grocers, all-too-long lines predate the pandemic. (Looking at you, Trader Joe’s!) We’re still inclined to get our shopping done in as empty a store and as few minutes as possible.

Because the idea of a routine or schedule has become nebulous at this point, it’s no longer safe to guesstimate that you’ll be in and out on a Tuesday at 9 a.m or Thursday at 6 p.m. without a doubt. Your usual time may be way more crowded these days, or maybe you can no longer go during your preferred time. This brings us to our smart tip: Use Google Maps for a data-backed view of when to visit your local grocery store during its least busy hours. See, the app uses historical data to predict the range of least to most popular times that people visit certain locations like stores, parks, and restaurants.

Credit: Kaitlin Garske

In order to access this view, simply Google your local grocery store. A sidebar will appear in the search results (on the right) that shows popular times based on historical data. It also has a “Live” view, which indicates how busy the store is at this very moment. While this feature is by no means a new feature, we thought it could be worth the reminder and something to take advantage of when you’re carefully timing your grocery shopping.

What time are you finding is best for grocery shopping these days?