Making a purchase at a grocery store or waiting for a table at a restaurant often entails waiting in a line. While stores are overcrowded at certain times or on certain days, at other times, stores can be relatively empty. This situation is worsened under pandemic conditions: for example, the outbreak of the Covid-19 disease has necessitated the closure of many businesses and enforcement of a six-feet social distance between customers of those businesses that are open. Longer wait times are inconvenient and put people at greater risk of exposure.

This disclosure describes techniques that enable customers to estimate wait times at retail outlets or businesses; recommend or schedule a store and/or a timeslot that reduces or eliminates waiting time; and, based on a customer’s shopping list and the distribution of people within a store, compute a route that improves social distancing while reducing the duration of time spent at the store.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.