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Grocery Store Etiquette

by  Tina Hayes on February 26, 2010

Are you one that hates shopping at grocery stores? Is it because of the prices, people or quality of food? What causes you to have an unpleasant shopping experience? As an etiquette resource, I am not able to reduce food prices or change the freshness of meats and produce; however I can provide some simple advice on behaviors which can positively affect yours and others grocery shopping experience.

Although you may think these tips of common courtesy should be second nature, unfortunately not everyone takes the time to practice them.

The Tips:

  • Use common courtesies while shopping “Thank-you”, “Please”, “Excuse me”, “I’m Sorry”. Your mannerisms speak volumes about you.
  • When requiring assistance from store personnel address him/her by their name, which is usually printed on a name tag. “Hey” is unacceptable. Also, keep in mind that there are thousands of items in the store and the store clerk may not know everything about each item.
  • If you happen to engage in a conversation with friends or acquaintances, don’t block the aisles and keep it brief!
  • If you drop, break or knock something over, inform a worker. You’re not required to pick up broken glass or clean spills. Accidents happen! Offer a simple apology and continue shopping.
  • Cart etiquette – Pushing a cart is like driving a car. Use caution when driving and don’t drive recklessly. When maneuvering down aisles, try and stay toward the center. When gathering items, park your cart to the side. Also, don’t allow your cart to roam free in the parking lot. Taking a few extra steps to return carts to designated cart depots is a reflection of your ability to show consideration for others.
  • If you decide that you don’t want an item, place it back in its original spot or give it to the cashier.
  • Don’t eat candy, nuts, dried fruits, etc from the bulk bins. Also use utensils when bagging foods such as bagels, donuts, and bread rolls.
  • Don’t consume food before you pay for it.
  • Have coupons ready when you reach the check-out stand.
  • Remove the food from the hand-baskets. It makes it easier for the clerk during your check-out (exception – Trader Joes).
  • Don’t get upset if the cashier asks for your ID when you use a credit card or write a check. It’s for your own protection. Be proactive and have it out to confirm your identity.
  • If you are over 30, consider it a compliment if requested to show proof of your age when purchasing alcohol.
  • Restrain from scheduling weekly free lunches at Costco or Sam’s Club. Don’t make a meal out of the samples. These ‘tasters’ are for the consumers who are considering purchasing the item.

The grocery store etiquette tips that I have provided may seem elementary. Of course you always address the clerks by their names, put items back in their original spots, and I know that you would never spill something and not call attention to it. Mannerly people are respectful, appreciative and thoughtful even in grocery stores… right? What I’ve come to realize is that the majority of people know how to behave and how to do things properly, but seldom follow-through and act accordingly. Since there is limited formal etiquette guidance on this topic, I would love to hear what advice you would like to share – Post a comment.

Until next time…Don’t reserve your best behaviors for special occasions, make practicing etiquette an every day part of your life.

Tina Hayes

Tina Hayes

Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Northern California (Antioch). full bio

Website: www.etiquetteschool.us

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