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Debate: Which day of Thanksgiving week is busiest for grocery stores?

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the year's busiest travel day -- but if you're not on the road or in a plane, chances are you're standing in line at a grocery store.

It's commonly believed that Thanksgiving Eve also is the biggest day of the year for grocery stores as people rush in to buy food for the holiday meal and avoid last-minute shopping on Thursday.

But some experts believe that grocery store shopping reached its peak before Wednesday.

Michael Ruhlman, author of the book "Grocery: The Buying And Selling of Food in America," wrote that the Tuesday before Thanksgiving actually is the busiest day at grocery stores because so many shoppers believe Wednesday is the busiest and want to avoid shopping then.

In a recent article by Reader's Digest, "This is The Absolute Worst Day to Shop for Your Thanksgiving Groceries," customers are advised to avoid shopping during any of the four days before the holiday, because they'll be so much busier.

"Finish up by Monday at the latest," the article states, implying that you'll be more likely to encounter empty shelves and sold-out items the closer you get to Thanksgiving.

According to a new report by Google Maps, the worst time to do your holiday grocery shopping -- based on traffic -- is on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., while the best time is after 9 p.m. on the Tuesday before the holiday.

On Wednesday, KRDO NewsChannel 13 visited a Safeway store near the intersection of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Dublin Boulevard in Colorado Springs, and found the atmosphere to be more like a regular weekday.

Heather Halpape, a Safeway spokeswoman, explained why.

"Because of the winter storm on Tuesday, a lot of people shopped on Monday," she said. "So Monday was a huge day for us, and a lot of people got it taken care of early, so it'll be difficult to tell how crowded it'll be in the store."

Many customers in the store Wednesday said they've already finished all or most of their shopping and returned to purchase a few items they need or forgot.

"I thought I was finished," said Rannold Chalmers. "I came back only to get basting brushes for my turkey. My child keeps taking them and using them as paintbrushes."

Some customers said what makes shopping easier in some instances -- and harder in others -- are the options available, such as online shopping, delivery and an increase in self-checkout lines.

Some stores also offer meals for entire families who choose not to cook, an option so popular that it has nearly sold out at the Safeway store.

Turkeys and stuffing mix were the most popular items at the Safeway store Thursday.

"Don't worry, we won't run out," Halpape said. "And we'll be open on Thanksgiving, too."

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


1 Comment

  1. You went to what is likely the least used (quietest) grocery store in the county. This article is a sad example of journalism.

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