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Grocery Shopping Etiquette

Updated on March 26, 2011


You are standing in the 16 items or less. Ahead of you is someone with at least double the amount. The check-out clerk is saying nothing. Everyone behind you is muttering but not saying anything loud enough. The person ahead of you is clearly in breach of shopping etiquette.

What is Shopping Etiquette?

Shopping Etiquette is the correct way to line-up, drive your shopping cart and pay in a grocery store. It is something Miss Manners never really dealt with. In fact, no one that I am aware of is teaching this subject in school or at home. You sort of learn from your parents. For those who find themselves in a total daze, even amazed at the context, what follows is a simple look at the basics of Shopping Etiquette.

Arriving in the Parking Lot

This is for those who drive and park. Anyone who sensibly walks, takes a bus or rides a bike can ignore this section.

1.   Do not park in a handicapped spot.

2.   Leave the pregnant women’s parking spots alone. You might want to use one someday.

3.   Never take up more space than you need. If you have a boat of a car, park somewhere near the back of the lot where you can find space without taking up 2 or 3 spots.

4.   The area in front of the store is for fast unloading. You stop, drop off your passengers then get the hell out of the way. This is not an idle zone – though it may seem to others you all you have are idle thoughts in the poor excuse you call a brain.

Shopping Carts

Let’s face it. Odds are you are going to get the cart with the squeaking wheel or the one that goes sideways like a crab. You can put it back. You can also consider it as an early warning system. No one can say they can’t hear or see you coming.

When pushing your cart, do not race or doddle. Proceed at a moderate pace. Make sure any children you bring are not hanging too far out into the aisles like the moneys they are. Keep a safe distance from the shelves with easily reached goods.

Do try to be courteous. Remember these simple rules for pushing your cart around the store

·        If you accidently bump into another cart, apologize.

·        Take the turns slowly you never know whether a little old lady is just around the bend hiding among the cereal boxes or lurking behind the cat food.

·        Do not park your cart in the middle of the aisle. This causes a traffic jam and can result in short tempers. You do not want to trigger a case of shopping aisle rage.

·        Do not stop to chat with an employee or someone you know – or would like to know (Grocery stores can be an interesting way to meet people) if it means you are blocking an aisle or access to a vital product

Checking Our Groceries

This is where the most problems occur. Remember, your manners. Follow the basic rules:

  • If you value your life and your next life – do NOT line up with a cart full of groceries in the 10 items or even 16 items or less. And yes, if you buy 3 for the price of 1 is STILL count as 3 items. So do those small items and several pieces of different fruit.
  • Always be nice to the people who are in line. If nothing else, you may make friends grumbling about the expletive deletive who is slowing down the rest of you.
  • Be sure to take the divider in front of you – when your groceries reach the front of the line, and place it between your items and those behind you. Don’t leave it for the person behind you to reach over and grab it.


These are the basics. There are many other ways to make shopping a little easier for you and everyone else. Including paying for the candy your child or you has eaten from the bins, and using the tongs and not your hands to pick out something from the bins. But, this is enough for now. Follow the rules, pass them on to someone else and Happy Shopping.


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    • LennyP profile image

      LennyP 6 years ago from Iowa

      The thing that really pisses me off at the grocery store is the express line. I can't stand people who think they are more important than everyone else and want to "squeeze" a few extra items in. Sometimes much more than a few.

      The worst thing is most stores won't even enforce the limits. In the name of customer service they put the needs of the selfish over every other shopper. That is the opposite of customer service if you ask me.

      When I was a cashier I had no problem sending someone to another line. They thought I would care when they complained about how long they already waited. Everyone else waited too but they didn't put their own needs over others.