Thanksgiving planning: Best and worst times to shop, run errands, travel

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NEW YORK — A successful Thanksgiving holiday takes a lot of planning and preparation, and can be quite stressful. Now, Google is trying to help.

Google Maps has tracked last year’s data and search patterns and has some tips on when to head out to avoid long lines, big crowds and even heavy traffic if you’re traveling.

So, when are the best (and worst) times to shop and run your errands in the days around Thanksgiving?

Pro-tip: If you hate lines and crowds, avoid the grocery store, bakery, malls and other stores Wednesday evening.


Best time: Tuesday at 7 p.m. (least crowded)
Worst time: Wednesday at noon (most crowded)

Grocery store

Best time: Tuesday at 9 p.m. (least crowded)
Worst time: Wednesday at 5 p.m. (most crowded)

Liquor store

Best time: Tuesday at 10 p.m. (least crowded)
Worst time: Wednesday at 6 pm. (most crowded)

Shopping center

Best time: Thursday (Thanksgiving day) at 7 a.m. (least crowded)
Worst time: Wednesday at 4 p.m. (most crowded)

On Black Friday the best time is 7 a.m., while the worst time is 3 p.m.

Movie theater

Best time: Tuesday at 11 a.m. (least crowded)
Worst time: Tuesday at 6 p.m. (most crowded)

Check out our calendar graphics below. Save them to your phone as an easy way to check the best and worst times:

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Google has tips for that, too.

Nationally, we see that the day before Thanksgiving, between 3 and 4 p.m. is the worst time to hit the road, but traffic clears up significantly by 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

To avoid any foul moods after turkey day, try your best to avoid the Friday or Sunday afternoon rush and leave in the morning when there are significantly less cars on the road.

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