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How Google is helping us navigate through the Black Friday Sales

Over the past decade we’ve been gifted a fair few annual traditions from our lovely neighbours across the pond. First, the obsession with prom infiltrated our secondary schools. Then, we began waking up at 4am to watch the biggest ‘match’ of a sport not even played in this country, the Superbowl. Now we’ve been graced with another all-star American event… here comes Black Friday!

So what actually is Black Friday? Traditionally in the states, the day after Thanksgiving (Friday) is known as Black Friday. This marks the official start of holiday (Christmas) shopping season, with most major retailers opening very early, some even overnight, to offer the best promotional sales of the entire year.

Black Friday caught on in the UK around 4 years ago, when major retailers such as Asda and Apple began offering up their goods to savvy UK shoppers. From gadgets, to garments – no item is off limits in the Black Friday sales so you can see why the UK has more than welcomed the affair. Since prices are slashed even below those of the traditional British “Boxing Day Sales”, it is safe to say that Black Friday bargain hunting can get a little bit heated. Can you not remember the viral video that circulated the web last year showing a middle aged woman pushing a child out the way to get her hands on 44” Plasma TV?

To avoid the wrath of a dedicated Black Friday shopper, our friendly tech giant Google have been working behind the scenes to help us bargain hunters not be crushed in the chaos of this retail extravaganza, by launching a brand new live search facility.

Google has made it now possible to see how busy shops and other popular destinations are, in real time. The company have commented: “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. Whether you’re rushing to pick up a last minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.”

A simple ‘Google’ search for your shop of choice to target in the sales will now deliver a status update, such as “very busy”, so you can navigate the best route to take during your shopping spree to avoid the crowds. This is an evolution in Google’s Popular Times feature within its ‘Search and Maps’ tool, it works by using location data from other shared Google users which is then analysed to determine how busy that particular location is, at that moment in time.

Although not available for every store, most of the biggest names are covered. This is a great example of how a technology titan has kept on the pulse with customer’s needs and tweaked an already active service to heighten customer experience. Thanks Google, we’re ready to hit the sales!

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