For millions of people around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has meant staying home more to avoid crowds in an effort to mitigate the spread of the disease.
While some people prefer to take advantage of grocery delivery services, if you’re not able to do so or feel more comfortable going to the store in person, there’s a way to figure out when the store won’t be as crowded for you to go pick up your groceries.
Under the “overview” tab you can find the popular times for every day of the week, which is useful if you’re planning a trip later in the day or week, but it also gives you an idea of how many people are there at the moment compared to other times, complete with average wait times.
Word to the wise: the program uses data that it collects from people who have the Google Maps app on their phones and who share their information with the tech giant, so the more popular the app is in your area, the more accurate the prediction will be.
This week, the tech giant published information about the busiest supermarket times around the country, sharing that people can expect more crowds at the grocery store on Saturday afternoons between 1 and 3 p.m. Mondays at around 8 a.m. are when supermarkets are the least busy, and pharmacies are at their emptiest one hour later.
Google Maps isn’t alone in providing this type of information to consumers – OpenTable, the restaurant reservation app, has expanded its services to “grocery stores, permitted major retailers, restaurants turned pop-up shops and to-go concepts,” reports Good Morning America.
Participating retailers can work with OpenTable to show shopping times that people can reserve in advance. The app can also feature a waitlist at the door to reduce the number of people in an establishment at a time.
According to a statement, the reservation ability is "geared toward managing crowd control and creating a safer option for high-risk shoppers to get groceries without a line."
The tool is available nationwide after an initial rollout on the West Coast. It will be completely free to use.