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15 Rude Things You Probably Shouldn’t Be Doing at the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, seemingly all at the same time. Here's how to make the experience better for everyone involved.

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Shopping carttolgart/Getty Images

Leaving your cart in the parking lot

Leaving your cart in the parking lot is not only lazy, but it’s also annoying for anyone trying to pull into a parking spot, only to discover there’s a shopping cart in the way. And it’s downright dangerous since stray shopping carts can scratch cars and injure pedestrians. So, it’s not surprising that 72 percent of responders in Treadmill Review’s survey on grocery store etiquette said leaving your cart in the middle of the lot is a big no-no. And don’t try to justify the behavior by saying you’re leaving it for the next guy. Remember, carts now get sanitized after each use. So, that “next guy” probably isn’t going to want your stray cart, knowing it hasn’t been cleaned.

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People waiting in line with shopping baskets at grocery storeRubberball/Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Leaving the checkout line to grab another item

This is even worse than leaving your shopping cart in the parking lot. Leaving your shopping cart in the checkout line while you grab another item is a move 80 percent of shoppers consider rude. So, do your best to finish all your shopping before lining up to check out. And definitely don’t purposely line up and leave to save time—everyone’s onto you. Don’t miss the best supermarket in every state.

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Cashier ringing up groceriesNoel Hendrickson/Getty Images

Leaving the checkout counter to grab another item

This one seems to be better-tolerated than leaving your cart while you’re waiting in line, but it still annoys 68 percent of grocery shoppers. Perhaps other shoppers are more willing to believe it was an accident, rather than a time-saving strategy. But it’s impossible to squeeze past the person behind you while still staying six feet apart. You’re better off accepting your mistake and shopping for the item you forgot at some other time.

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Woman at the supermarket, buying paper towels in abundance for lack of toilet paperKathrin Ziegler/Getty Images

Abandoning essential items at checkout

Throughout the pandemic, stores have had to limit the number of essential items that customers can buy. And while it may be frustrating to walk away with only one pack of paper towels, you absolutely shouldn’t load up your cart with more, only to have to abandon the excess at checkout. Not only are you trying to cheat other people out of their fair share, but you’re also making it harder for them to find those items. Here’s more on why panic buying is irresponsible.

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Full shopping cart in supermarket aisleJacobs Stock Photography Ltd/Getty Images

Blocking the aisle with your cart

Nine out of ten shoppers surveyed find it rude when your cart gets in the way of their own trip down an aisle. Obviously, in a store with narrow aisles or on a particularly busy shopping day, it’s harder to keep your cart out of other people’s way. But bear in mind that 90 percent of people seriously dislike dealing with aisle traffic jams. Find out more grocery store shopping secrets you should know.

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One way sign on the floor of a schoolWoodysPhotos/Getty Images

Not following the arrows on the floor

Sure, it’s inconvenient when you have to backtrack in order to go down an aisle you need in the direction indicated. But those arrows taped to the floor are there for a reason: to make grocery shopping safer for everyone. So, when you decide to disobey those directions, you’re essentially declaring that your time is worth more than everyone else’s health. It doesn’t get much ruder than that.

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Shopping wallpaper customer with basket full of goods in storeAndrey Burstein/Shutterstock

Cutting the line

The easiest way to offend literally anyone at the grocery store is to cut the line—whether it’s at the checkout or the deli. A whopping 99 percent of shoppers polled agreed that line-cutting is bad grocery store behavior. If you’re the one out of 100 who doesn’t mind getting cut in line, you’re a grocery shopping unicorn!

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COVID-19 Grocery Store Checkout Line Social Distancing Sign NoticeYinYang/Getty Images

Encroaching on anyone else’s personal space

It’s not a coincidence that nearly that many shoppers (94 percent) hate it when others invade their personal space. Picture this scenario: You’re waiting to checkout. Your cart is full, and you’re dreading the unloading and reloading that awaits you when, suddenly, someone holding a single carton of milk gets just a little too close.

You know what they’re thinking (“Can I squeeze in before you?”), and they know what you’re thinking (“Hey! Scat!”). Better to just skip this charade by keeping an appropriate distance between you and the person ahead of you. This is especially true in the age of COVID-19, when anything less than six feet is cause for concern. Here’s the best day of the week to go grocery shopping if you’re trying to avoid long lines.

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Grocery items on check out counterShannon Fagan/Getty Images

Gaming the express lane

If the express lane says “10 items or less,” then it’s bad form to get on line with 11 items or more, says 89 percent of grocery shoppers polled. And if you’re going to try to game the express lane, please don’t pretend you don’t know what you’re doing. Everyone knows what you’re doing. Here’s the reason why Costco doesn’t even have an express lane.

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Little girl shopping in supermarket with momTang Ming Tung/Getty Images

Letting your kids misbehave

Every parent has to endure their own kids misbehaving at some point. But a good 92 percent of shoppers don’t want to have to witness your kids misbehaving at the grocery store. What constitutes misbehaving? Nowadays, letting your kids run rampant throughout the store and touch everything is especially worrisome. Make sure to keep a close eye on any child young enough to not wear a mask.

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Senior man with face mask buying vegetables in grocery storeLuis Alvarez/Getty Images

Showing up at a time designated for other people

To their credit, many grocery stores have altered their hours in order to make shopping safer for those at greater risk of complications from COVID-19. So, if you aren’t elderly, or if you don’t have a compromised immune system, don’t try to sneak your grocery run in at a time set aside for those individuals. By doing so, you defeat the purpose of that initiative. (You also put the store management in the difficult position of having to turn away customers.) Find out what it’s like to work at Trader Joe’s during the pandemic.

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Young Asian woman shopping milk in grocery storeOscar Wong/Getty Images

Not putting items you no longer want back where they belong

You came to the store for a carton of milk only to discover all the checkout lanes are packed. What do you do? Do you return the carton of milk to the refrigerated case where you got it? Yes! Because if you leave it anywhere else, 97 percent of your fellow shoppers will think you’re being rude, not to mention wasteful. Don’t miss these things that frustrate every grocery store employee, too.

Think the put-it-back rule applies only to perishables? Think again. A majority of grocery shoppers (79 percent) think it’s rude even if the item is non-perishable.

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Tasting a most seductive fruit.Aja Koska/Getty Images

Sampling food (unless it’s actually offered as a sample)

You might be surprised to learn that 80 percent of grocery shoppers frown upon your sampling anything that isn’t set out, specifically, as a sample. That includes grapes and strawberries, the folks at Treadmill Review are careful to point out. Fellow shoppers also won’t love that you’re taking off your mask in order to sample. These are the grocery store tricks you’re still falling for.

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cose up of potato chips in bagkhuruzero/Shutterstock

Helping yourself to your haul before paying

It’s not just sampling that annoys your fellow shoppers. Almost as many (78 percent) object to you consuming items you plan to purchase if you haven’t yet purchased them. Consider this: No one but you knows your intention to purchase whatever you’re noshing on.

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Unrecognizable woman marvels at grocery bread selectionSDI Productions/Getty Images

Being rude or inconsiderate in any other way

Since rude shoppers vex 91 percent of the grocery shoppers polled by Treadmill Reviews, you’ll want to stop doing all of the things mentioned above when grocery shopping. But clearly, there are other ways to be rude. So, use your common sense to make the grocery shopping experience more pleasant for everyone. Now, find out the things your grocer won’t tell you, which you still need to know.


Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.