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12 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.

Senior woman checking shopping list on smartphone
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Rude grocery store habits you should avoid

Ah, the grocery store, a central hub for all things delicious and nutritious. The grocery store attracts, well, everyone—people need to eat! That being said, grocery stores get busy (especially if they have great reputations), and shoppers’ time (and patience) can get crunched. Before you know it, you’re seeing people abandon those essential grocery shopping etiquette rules. Heck, you may even be guilty of throwing grocery store etiquette to the wind yourself!

Listen, everyone has their days at the grocery store (especially if you’re trying to save money on groceries by hunting for deals), but the key is to not turn these one-off bad behaviors into habits. What exactly are the rudest grocery store habits to avoid? Check out these results from the Treadmill Reviews survey on grocery store etiquette, rounded up below.

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Shopping cart
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Leaving your cart in the parking lot

Leaving your cart in the parking lot is not only lazy, it’s also annoying for anyone trying to pull into a parking spot or pick up a curbside haul ordered through a grocery store app. They’re trying to do a quick-and-easy maneuver, only to discover there’s a shopping cart in the way. And it’s downright dangerous too, since stray shopping carts can scratch cars and injure pedestrians. So it’s not surprising that 72% of responders in the Treadmill Reviews survey said leaving your cart in the middle of the parking lot is a big no-no.

Buyers standing in line on social distance and waiting at supermarket during corona virus.
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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% 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 then leave to save time—everyone’s onto you. Don’t miss the best supermarket in every state.

Senior Man Holding Melon And Talking To Cashier
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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% of grocery shoppers. Perhaps other shoppers are more willing to believe it was an accident, rather than a time-saving strategy. You’re better off accepting your mistake and shopping for the item you forgot at some other time. Or you could order it online from your car and wait a bit to grab it.

Full shopping cart in supermarket aisle
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Blocking the aisle with your cart

Nine out of 10 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% of people seriously dislike dealing with aisle traffic jams. Find out more grocery store shopping secrets you should know.

People at supermarket checkout counter
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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% 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! By the way, this is why stores ask for your phone number at checkout.

Social distancing being practiced at supermarket payment counter, with 1 meter gap between people in queue.
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Encroaching on anyone else’s personal space

It’s not a coincidence that nearly as many shoppers (94%) hate it when others invade their personal space. Picture this scenario: You’re waiting to check out. Your cart is full and you’re dreading the unloading and reloading that awaits you, when suddenly, someone holding a single carton of milk (or even a bag of milk, if you’re Canadian) 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.

Cashier ringing up groceries
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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, according to 89% 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. Try looking for the fastest grocery store line to go through instead of clogging up express.

A little boy is keeping himself busy with melting with his breath the ice on the glass door of a refrigerator in a supermarket during the shopping trip.
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Letting your kids misbehave

Every parent has to endure their own kids misbehaving at some point. But a good 92% of shoppers don’t want to have to witness your kids misbehaving at the grocery store. What constitutes misbehavior? Kids running rampant through the store and touching everything with unwashed hands.

Young Asian woman shopping milk in grocery store
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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? Return the milk to the refrigerated case where you got it? Yes! Because if you leave it anywhere else, 97% of your fellow shoppers will think you’re being rude, not to mention wasteful.

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

Tasting a most seductive fruit.
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Sampling food (unless it’s actually offered as a sample)

You might be surprised to learn that 80% of grocery shoppers frown upon your sampling anything that isn’t set out, specifically, as a sample. That includes grapes and strawberries, as the folks at Treadmill Reviews are careful to point out. Don’t miss these things that frustrate every grocery store employee too.

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Helping yourself to your haul before paying

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

Woman at the supermarket, buying paper towels in abundance for lack of toilet paper
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Being rude or inconsiderate in any other way

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


Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in 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, and 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.