Grocery shopping is a necessary task and while some individuals enjoy the challenge of finding obscure products on understocked shelves in overcrowded aisles, many people cringe at the regular chore of maneuvering a rickety cart to shop for food. This does not make impolite behavior acceptable, however, and understanding proper grocery store etiquette is essential for enjoyable shopping. These 20 tips can help you find the groceries you need quickly and politely.
1. No Sharking When Parking
When looking for a parking space at the grocery store, opt for the first available space rather than cruising up and down aisles to get just a few feet closer. While some shoppers will need closer spaces, parking quickly a bit further away can save a lot of time and hassle when confronted with pedestrians and other vehicles.
2. Avoid Idling at the Door
Even if you are shopping with someone who only needs one quick item, avoid parking and idling near the store entrance. This blocks both traffic and pedestrian lanes and contributes to pollution. If necessary, drop the person off at the door and find a parking space where they can look for you after completing their shopping.
3. Choose an Appropriate Cart
When choosing a shopping cart, choose one for your needs. Smaller carts or baskets are best if you only have a few items, or you can hand carry your groceries. Leave the electric carts for shoppers who have real need of them, and avoid using oversized novelty carts unless they are necessary to help keep your children entertained and content.
4. Don’t Be a Roadblock
While shopping, avoid blocking aisles or intersections. If you must stop to consider different products or consult a grocery list, pull your cart over in a relatively unoccupied space. If you must block the aisle briefly, be quick in choosing your products so you can move out of other shoppers’ paths.
5. Save the Sales
It can be tempting to stock up on sale items, but it is polite to avoid taking the store’s entire stock. Many stores limited the quantity of sale items one shopper can purchase, and it is highly impolite to use children or multiple adults in the same group just to purchase more than the maximum amount. Instead, return to the store on different days or visit other stores if stocking up is essential.
6. Grocery Stores Aren’t Playgrounds
Children can easily become bored with the monotony of grocery shopping, but polite parents will not let their children race down the aisle, grab indiscriminate items off shelves, or otherwise become unruly and bother other shoppers. Establish rules for children to follow while grocery shopping, and enforce those rules with effective discipline.
7. Grocery Stores Aren’t Restaurants
Impolite shoppers who graze or snack on unpaid items while shopping are stealing, and it is rude to hand empty wrappers to a cashier to ring up with the rest of your items. Furthermore, eating in the store can create spills and unsanitary conditions that make shopping less enjoyable for other customers.
8. Respect Other Carts
While shopping carts are in use they become part of customers’ personal space. Polite shoppers will respect that space and not remove items from another shopper’s cart, nor will they add an item to someone’s cart as retribution for rude behavior – another rude act does not correct someone else’s actions. It is also polite to avoid moving another individual’s cart; if the cart is blocking your way, ask politely for the shopper to move.
9. Don’t Make a Meal of Samples
Many grocery stores offer product samples to tempt customers into additional purchases. If you want to try a sample, feel free to do so, but avoid taking multiple samples or using sample stations as a buffet line. This prevents other customers who are interested in the product from trying it themselves and abuses the store’s generosity in providing samples. Similarly, avoid using samples as snack time for children shopping with you.
10. Limit Cell Phone Use
A cell phone may be convenient for checking on a missing ingredient or verifying a grocery list, but avoid having protracted, personal conversations in a grocery store, particularly in the check out line where other customers and the cashier are forced to listen to your conversation. Instead, return calls after you have finished your shopping.
11. Finish Shopping Before Checking Out
Before entering a check out line, double check your grocery list or review the items in your cart to ensure you have everything you need. If you discover a missing item once you are in line, leave the line completely to get the item rather than dashing off and making other patrons wait. When you return to the line, your proper position is at the end, not at the same place where you left.
12. Reshelve Unwanted Items
If you change your mind about an item, either reshelve the item yourself or hand it to the cashier and let them know you no longer want it. Above all, avoid placing items – especially perishable groceries – on improper shelves where they clutter up space, obscure other items, and are unavailable for shoppers looking for the same item in the correct area. If you have multiple items you no longer want to purchase, reshelve them rather than handing many things to the cashier.
13. Respect the Express Line
Many grocery stores offer express lines for customers with just a few items. The listed totals, which may range from 5 to 20 items, are for the total number of items in a shopper’s cart, which includes multiples of the same item. If you have more than the appropriate number of items, find a different line to check out. Similarly, respect check out lines that require particular methods of payment, such as cash only lines.
14. Keep the Conveyor Neat
When placing your groceries on the conveyor belt, keep them grouped together and easy for the cashier to scan. This will help the line move more quickly and allow your groceries to be bagged more easily. When all your items are on the conveyor, place the separator bar down so the next customer can begin to unload their cart and the cashier knows where each order stops.
15. Organize Your Payment
It is no surprise that after the cashier scans all your groceries you will be expected to pay for them. While waiting in line, organize any coupons (double checking for expiration dates) and prepare your method of payment, whether that is writing out part of a check, finding the right credit or debit card, or getting out your wallet to pay cash. This will help the check out process move more efficiently and conveniently for everyone in line.
16. Respect Check Out Privacy
With more and more people opting for debit cards to pay for groceries, it is polite to respect other shoppers’ privacy while in the check out line. Avoid standing too close to other shoppers as they pay for their groceries, and avert your eyes from electronic keypads and grocery totals.
17. Bag Your Own Groceries
Stores may eliminate baggers in an attempt to keep costs low, and if you do not have a bagger take the initiative to bag your own groceries rather than force the cashier to perform two jobs. This is especially helpful and polite if you bring your own reusable bags. At the very least, move filled bags from the bagging area back into your cart instead of requiring the cashier to walk away from their station solely for your convenience.
18. Always Say Thank You
Simple common courtesy is often overlooked in a grocery store, but making eye contact and offering a genuine thank you to anyone who offers you a service is always polite and appropriate. Thank your cashier, the deli clerk who gets your cold cut order, the baker who gives your children a sample cookie, and anyone else whom you interact with in the store.
19. Return Your Carts
After you’ve completed your shopping and your groceries are safely stowed in your car, be polite to the next shopper by returning your cart to a parking lot corral or directly to the store. Unattended carts cause significant damage to cars in grocery store parking lots, and simply shoving a cart onto a nearby curb still blocks parking spaces for future shoppers. To be even more polite, take an abandoned cart into the store with you every time you do your shopping.
20. Be Patient
No matter how polite you try to be, there will always be other customers who are unaware of the proper grocery store etiquette. Instead of reacting in a rude way, be patient and polite and you will find grocery shopping to be less stressful and more enjoyable.