Use This Free Tool to Determine the Best Time to Shop

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Going to the grocery store these days can be stressful, as we try to maintain social distancing because of COVID-19. That’s why you need a strategy that takes into account your purse as well as the pandemic.

Thankfully, there’s a free and convenient tool you can use that will help you determine the best time to go shopping.

All you need is your computer or smartphone to make your shopping experience a whole lot easier. Money expert Clark Howard, who knows a thing or two about shopping strategies, explains how it works.

Want to Avoid Crowds at the Store? Try This

“Let’s say I want to go to Walmart or Target or Sam’s Club or my supermarket, and I want to go when I’m not going to be bumping into people all over the place,” Clark says. “I can go to Google and search the particular store.”

As an example of what to search on Google, you can type in “Sam’s Club near me.” Google will generate a list of locations, and you just click on the store you want. Then as you scroll, here’s what it will show you:

  • A toggle for the specific day of the week you want to go
  • A graph that depicts the busiest hours of the day
  • A “Live” look that describes the crowd in real time (“A little busy,” as displayed below)

Sam's Club busy times in Google search

Clark says this is a great way to know how busy a store is at any given time.

Another cool thing you can find out is how long shoppers typically stay in the store. It will say, “People typically spend [number of minutes] here.”

Sam's Club busy hours

This is a great function if you’re trying to minimize your time shopping.


“So you’ll know, ‘Hey, this is a terrible time to go there because there are a zillion people in there,'” Clark says. “Or, ‘Gee, this is a great time to go because there are very few people there.'”

The lesson here is that, if you want to make the best use of your time and stay safe, Google your grocery trip!

Thinking of going shopping today or tomorrow? Now you can pick the least busy time to go to the store. “Plan your trip accordingly!” Clark says.

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