This Is the Worst Time to Go Shopping, According to the CDC

To lower your coronavirus risk, avoid stores when they're at their busiest. Here's when experts say that is.

As states start to lift lockdown orders, businesses are opening their doors and many of us who've been stuck in the house for months are eager to return to a sense of normalcy, including visiting our favorite stores. But the fact of the matter is, the virus is still spreading and there are precautions you need to take when venturing outside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on how to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while doing everyday activities. And one of the key factors to consider when you want to go shopping is what time of day you're hitting the store.

The worst time to go shopping is midday, as the CDC says that is when most people will be doing their shopping, as well.  Kristen Gall, a shopping expert with Rakuten, adds that you should "avoid the weekends if you can." "Weekends, especially during midday starting around 1 p.m., is the worst time to go shopping as they draw the most crowds," Gall explains.

She also notes that most stores typically re-stock on Fridays, so there will likely be high traffic the following day.

People, with face masks for protection from COVID-19, are shopping vegetables and fruits at marketplace in Sofia, Bulgaria – march 17, 2020.

If the only time you can shop is during high traffic hours, Gall recommends looking for alternative ways to shop that don't involve going inside of a store. "Many stores have introduced or amplified their online shopping capabilities to allow customers to buy essentials without having to step into the store. Buying online and picking up in store is a great option to minimize contact with people," she says.

However, if you're more of an in-store browsing type of person, Gall even says that some stores, especially those specializing in high-end merchandise, have started making appointments available for customers before they open or after they close. This allows customers the ability to still browse in stores without the fear of coming into contact with a large number of other people. So call your local businesses and ask if they're implementing this practice, Gall recommends.

But no matter what time you go shopping, the CDC still recommends further precautions you need to take to stay safe. For instance, they recommend staying at least six feet away from others while in line and while shopping, as well as wearing a cloth face covering, disinfecting your shopping cart, and using touchless payment methods. After you leave a store, they say to immediately use hand sanitizer and then once you're home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And for more on shopping in a post-coronavirus world, check out 7 Things You Won't See at Retail Stores Ever Again After Coronavirus.

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