Now more than ever, we all want to go to grocery stores and other essential businesses when it’s not crowded. With a few taps, Google Maps can tell you how busy a store, restaurant, park, or other location is right now.

You can find this information on the Google Maps website in your browser or in the Google Maps app for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Search for the name of a store, restaurant, business, or other location—it even works for parks.

Click or tap the name of the location to view more information about it. Look for the “Popular times” chart in the panel—you may need to scroll down to see it. Look for a “Live” time that tells you how busy a business is right now.

Google Maps showing popular times for a location on its website

You can also click the name of the weekday and select another day of the week to check when the location is usually the busiest. Do more people tend to shop on Wednesday or Sunday? Is the store less busy early in the morning or late at night? The chart will tell you.

It’s worth noting that this historical data may not be as predictive as usual right now. Shopping patterns (and store hours) have changed. However, the Live data should be useful—if it says a location is busy right now, you can wait until Google says the location is less busy to head there.

Google Maps showing how busy a store is right now in the mobile app.

This information isn’t available for every location. It won’t be available for some locations that don’t “get enough visits” from people who have enabled Google Location History, according to Google.

How Does It Work?

This feature takes advantage of the location data Google receives from people who choose to enable Google Location History on their phones. Using this data, Google will estimate how busy it is at a particular location right now.

It also remembers historical data and can average it to show you when a store is usually the most—and least—busy every week.

RELATED: How to View and Delete Your Google Maps History on Android and iPhone

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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