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Jessica Plautz
November 21, 2016

Sometimes crowds can't be avoided, but if they can be—especially on a day as traditionally hectic as Black Friday—then it's worth the effort planning to skip the stress of never-ending lines and aggressive shoppers.

Google wants to help. On Monday, the company announced an update to its “Popular Times” feature in Maps and Search, which it launched last year, that could make your holiday shopping significantly smoother.

“Just in time for the Black Friday swarms, we're adding a real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help you decide where and when to go,” Google product manager Jamie Aspinall wrote on the company's blog.

Courtesy of Google

Google also offers information on how long people typically stay wherever you're headed, to help you decide how long you'll need. And of course, the listings for stores and attractions include which hours the establishments are open (though you may need to double check hours on holidays).

This update will do much more than simplify your seasonal shopping. The features are also useful year round for planning when to visit popular attractions, whether in your hometown or a city you're visiting.

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