Over the past couple of months, we’ve collected a large quantity of data on how consumer behavior has shifted during the pandemic. And although many states and municipalities have implemented quarantine/social distancing measures, plenty of people still need to go to brick-and-mortar locations to buy essentials like groceries, medication, and other household items. 

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask and gloves while shopping is a good measure to take, but the safest move is to avoid coming into close proximity with other individuals as best you can. That’s why we took a look at the days of the week and times of the day when you’re most and least likely to encounter crowds. Here’s what we learned:

Nationwide data from April 1 to May 5, 2020
  • The busiest shopping days overall are Friday and Saturday. The least busy days are Tuesday and Sunday.
  • Midday—between noon and two o’clock—is the busiest time for shoppers, so try to avoid going to stores during these hours if possible.
  • Another spike in foot traffic occurs between 4pm and 6pm, right when people are finishing up the workday. 
  • The least busy times of day for shoppers are before 9am and after 8pm.
  • Based on our analysis, the safest times to go shopping are in the early morning or later evening hours on Tuesday or Sunday.

With states beginning to ease restrictions—you can read about your state’s reopening plan here—and more businesses coming back online, we expect to see the overall numbers of walk-ins to increase significantly over the next several weeks. 

During this time, it’s still important to adhere to social distancing guidelines to prevent another surge in COVID-19 cases, so please continue to be cautious—and remember these insights when deciding when to do your essential shopping.