10 Seemingly Polite Gestures Grocery Store Employees Can’t Stand

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Many of us routinely shop for groceries and try to be polite to the hardworking employees they encounter. Nonetheless, not all well-intentioned behaviors are as helpful as we think. Some of our “polite” habits can make the job of grocery store staff more difficult. Understanding these allows us to be more considerate and improve our shopping etiquette.

Helping Yourself Through Unstocked Items

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Grabbing items from a cart that hasn’t been unloaded yet might seem beneficial to you as if you’re saving the employee time or avoiding bothering them by asking. However, this action often causes more trouble than it’s worth. Customers taking items directly from the cart can create a mess and disrupt the organization process.

Putting Frozen Items Back On Its Original Place

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You might spot a jug of milk or a pack of popsicles left on a room-temperature shelf as you finish your grocery trip. It’s the right thing to return the items to their proper places, especially if you’re heading that way. Remember that you can’t be sure how long the products have been out and are safe to consume. Instead, hand the items to an employee and mention where you found them to prevent anyone from buying spoiled products.

Trying to Clean a Spill

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While your intentions are reasonable, you likely need more supplies to effectively address a spill on an isle, cart, or shelf. The best action is to notify an employee so they can handle it promptly.

Accepting Free Samples to Dump it Later

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Free samples at the store are a delightful way to discover new flavors and products. But sometimes, we might feel obligated to grab a sample, even if we’re not interested. Politely declining the sample prevents this waste and ensures the product goes to someone who genuinely wants to try it.

Leaving a Product Aside Before Buying

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When you change your mind about purchasing those store-made cookies due to the high markup, you might place them on a nearby shelf or rack instead of the conveyor belt to avoid inconveniencing the cashier. To streamline the process and make it easier for everyone, hand the item to staff, letting them know you’ve changed your mind. This way, they can set it aside and organize it with other articles that need to be returned.

Loading All Items At Once on the Conveyor Belt


We’ve all been there—eager to get through the checkout process, you immediately unload your entire basket onto the conveyor belt. While you might think this is a beneficial way to speed things up for the cashier, it can slow down the process. Cashiers are experts at scanning barcodes even if there are multiples of the same product. By overloading the belt, you take away their ability to scan at peak speed.

Putting Heavy Items by Yourself for Scanning

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That oversized, awkward item you struggled to get out of your cart and plop in front of the cashier? Sorry to break the news, but that might not be the best or most accessible way for a worker to scan it. Your cashier will still find the barcode, so let them scan it while it’s still in your cart to save you from a strenuous lift.

Help Bag Items


Do you feel bad for the bagger who bags your items at checkout and attempt to relieve their burden? Unfortunately, you don’t realize you are doing more harm than good, disrupting the rhythm of a skilled bagger. Ensuring your delicate produce stays safe and your heavier items don’t squish the bread is a task they know well.

Initiating Small Talk

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Engaging in friendly conversation with the baggers while they bag your groceries can slow down the line. It’s essential to respect the efficiency of their training and the need for them to focus on their task. Distractions can cause delays. It’s best to save the small talk for after the transaction is complete, allowing the line to move smoothly and respecting the time of other shoppers. It will make you a considerate and respectful shopper.

Adding your Cart to the Train

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A common occurrence in the parking lot is spotting an employee wrestling a long line of carts back to the store. In a helpful spirit, you might be tempted to attach your cart to the train. True, the intention is fantastic, but there are better ways. Unless the person has specifically told you to hand over the cart, it’s best to wait to add yours to their line.


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