Does the prospect of a trip to the grocery store fill you with terror these days (I mean, more than usual)? Will this be the day that some insensitive person coughs on you? The day the virus latches on to the handle of a carton of milk that you will unsuspectingly carry home and infect your entire family with? The day your mask falls off as you bend over the shelf of packaged chicken parts? The day you get run over by a cart while you attempt to stand six feet away from everyone else without blocking the pasta aisle? (Does it even matter? All the pasta is gone anyway.) Or maybe it’s the day you get into a joust—the socially distanced equivalent of a fistfight—with another customer over the last bag of flour. Any way you slice it, the grocery store is a minefield.
Fortunately, our friends over at Business Insider analyzed three consumer studies in order to determine the best time to go grocery shopping. “Best” here doesn’t mean “the time at which you will be guaranteed to find the flour and yeast you have been searching for for weeks.” It just means “the time of day the store will be the least crowded.”
That time, by a long shot, is 6 a.m., followed by 7 a.m. But since many stores are observing senior hours these days, your choice is either to be a senior, do a convincing masquerade as a senior, or wait until the store opens to the general public and dash through the front entrance immediately like a doorbuster on Black Friday.
Stores get steadily more crowded throughout the day, BI discovered, reaching their peak in the afternoon, specifically late afternoon when 9-to-5 workers traditionally shopped for dinner in the Beforetimes. There’s a steep drop-off after 7 p.m., but by then the groceries might be picked over. (BI didn’t actually say this. I’m extrapolating.) So set your alarms, people, leave your masks by your keys where you can find them, and go forth and shop in the earliest morning light you can stand—if you must.