By Lisa Eadicicco
Although many Black Friday shopping deals are available online, there are some bargains that you can only access in stores. That often means waiting in daunting lines and navigating through densely packed crowds.
Google, however, may have a solution. The company has analyzed foot traffic data it gathered from a sample of U.S. smartphone users between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 last year to get an idea of how crowded stores get during the holiday season. The anonymized data was gathered from phones with Location History turned on, which allows Google (GOOG) to track where the device has been.
On Black Friday specifically, traffic is usually heaviest in the afternoon rather than the morning, according to Google’s data. It’s lowest between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., with the crowds starting to pick up around 8 a.m.
Foot traffic peaks between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., which is when you should avoid shopping if you want to steer clear of the crowds. The best way to bypass the mobs of Black Friday shoppers seems to be getting up early. Google’s graph suggests that foot traffic across all types of retail shops is lowest at around 5 a.m.
Although Black Friday is a massively popular day for shopping, most stores see more foot traffic as it gets closer to Christmas. Consumer electronics stores are the exception, as they see peak foot traffic the day after Thanksgiving, Google reports.