Skip to content

The #1 Thing You Shouldn't Do Inside a Grocery Store

Aisles now have their own set of unwritten etiquette rules. Are you following them correctly?
grocery shopping

If you haven't been to a grocery store lately, first, good for you for following social distancing guidelines and staying home! Second, you are really missing out on the grocery shopping equivalent of American Ninja Warrior.

As if there weren't enough hurdles to jump over just to enter the building—making sure your mask is secure, sanitizing your hands, wiping down your cart, etc.—there's now the extra maneuver of having to traverse shopping carts that are rudely blocking aisles. Talk about social distancing barriers.

Grocery store aisles have their own set of unwritten road etiquette rules: Stay on the right, don't block lanes, and keep up with the flow. Especially in this era of COVID-19, you always want to make sure people can get around you safely without having to come in close contact with you or your cart.

It's also a good rule of thumb to not let your kid push the cart since they likely aren't licensed (kidding) and are the cause of many cart-related aisle accidents, especially if they aren't tall enough to see oncoming traffic. This is not the time to indulge in a chauffeur. Push your own cart.

Most grocery stores have one-way aisle markings in place to keep within social distancing guidelines, but these visual cues are often ignored or overlooked by shoppers. So what do you do if you come face-to-face with a stalled shopping cart in your path?

Etiquette dictates that, just like driving, you should stay to your right. If this is not possible, pass the cart and keep on your merry way. If you need something on the opposite aisle, park your cart on the right and then cross "lanes" to go get your item. Do not drag your cart with you wherever you go.

If someone is in your way while trying to reach for an item, say "excuse me" and let them move out of the way. In this age of contagion, it's not smart to push in front of another shopper or startle them, for that matter. Never reach from behind or around someone. That's just bad manners no matter the circumstances.

For more grocery shopping tips, check out these 15 Costco hacks that can save you serious money.

Ami Hanson
Ami Hanson is a food and wine writer based in Seattle. Read more