The best time to shop for groceries during the coronavirus pandemic is early morning, studies show

grocery shopping

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Business Insider reviewed the data from three consumer studies to find out when the least crowded time to go shopping is.

  • Experts recommend shopping at grocery stores when they may be less crowded.
  • Business Insider received insights from three companies dealing with consumer data - InMarket, Gongos, and CivicScience - to find out the least and most crowded times for grocery stores.
  • All three studies showed that the early morning is the least crowded time to shop, followed by late evening. Mid-afternoon is the most crowded time to shop.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Social distancing is more vital than ever now, but it can be difficult to keep the necessary six feet away from people in a crowded grocery store.

However, experts say that the six-foot distance is non-negotiable, and one of the easiest way to ensure that you are able to maintain that distance is by going to the store when it's less crowded.Advertisement

Business Insider reviewed data from three consumer studies to find out when would typically be the least crowded time to go shopping.

InMarket, a digital advertising company, analyzes anonymous location data from around 50 million cell phones to identify foot traffic patterns in retail. InMarket analyzed its location data to find the times when grocery stores were more or less crowded.

The data collected by InMarket shows that 6 and 7 a.m. are the least crowded times to shop. However, since many chains are reserving early-morning hours for elderly and at-risk shoppers, the next least crowded time to shop is immediately after stores open to the general public, around 7:30 or 8 a.m.
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InMarket grocery times data

Courtesy of Inmarket

Foot traffic heats up around noon, and stores stay high-traffic until the hour before closing.

According to InMarket's data, the most crowded times to shop are at 3, 4, and 5 p.m. However, foot traffic heats up around noon, and stores stay high-traffic until 7 p.m.Business Insider also asked Gongos, a marketing research agency, to conduct a poll of shoppers about their grocery shopping habits.Advertisement

Gongos asked 170 people what time they found grocery stores to be least crowded. 28% of those surveyed said that 6 to 9 a.m. was the least busy time, while 23% said that 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. was the least busy time.

Both surveys' findings are also in line with the results of a survey Business Insider received from CivicScience.

CivicScience is a consumer market intelligence firm that conducts large, census-representative surveys of adults and teenagers across the US. 4,861 shoppers participated in the CivicScience poll, which asked consumers what time they thought was best for grocery shoppingAdvertisement

39% of respondents in the CivicScience poll said that early morning is the best time to go grocery shopping, while 28% said that there is no good time to shop for groceries.

The takeaway from all three studies is that early morning is percieved as the least busy period for grocery shopping - and that conclusion is backed up by foot traffic data. Any time between noon and dinnertime will be busy, with crowds peaking mid-afternoon. Then, just before closing, grocery stores see another period of relative quiet.

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And get the latest coronavirus analysis and research from Business Insider Intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting businesses.

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