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When Black Friday starts to roll around, every company wants to jump on the bandwagon, including tech firms. Google is no exception, though this time it’s trying to differentiate itself by sharing more than just a list of deals: store traffic insights.

For the first time, Google is leveraging Google Maps data for where people tend to shop so that it can help you “beat the crowds on Black Friday.” There are three tips in all, but truth be told only the first one is useful: “Shop in the morning to avoid peak afternoon hours.”

The claim that most people start shopping the second stores open in the morning is false, according to Google. Instead, Black Friday store traffic peaks in the afternoon for most stores, typically between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., or even the day before: On Thursday evening (Thanksgiving Day), department stores see their peak traffic between 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.


So the main tip here is: Go to stores earlier in the morning or in the evening. Don’t go in the afternoon.

The other two tips are not exactly shockers: “Many stores are actually less busy on Black Friday than other days closer to Christmas” and “Check store inventory online before leaving the house.” Or, put another way, Black Friday isn’t the biggest shopping day for many stores, and the Internet can still be helpful even when you’re not shopping online.

While the second tip may be obvious, the data is still interesting. Shopping malls, superstores/discount stores, and department stores have the highest store traffic on the Saturday before Christmas, while dollar stores have the biggest peak in store traffic on Christmas Eve. Electronics stores and cell phone stores have their highest foot traffic on Black Friday: Electronics stores see 2x as much foot traffic than other weekends during the holiday season and cell phone stores see 1.6x as much foot traffic.

Google’s calendar sums up when you should shop for what:


And finally, the last tip says to check in-store availability online before you head off to buy that amazingly discounted item. Searching on Google with your smartphone sometimes shows product availability in stores nearby, but you should probably also check the store’s website.

Google’s tips are based on aggregated anonymized internal data from a sample of U.S. users that have turned on Location History in Google Maps, from November 1, 2014, to December 25, 2014. Keep in mind that 2015 could be completely different, especially if too many take these tips to heart.

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