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The Single Worst Thing You Can Ask at the Grocery Store Right Now

Avoid bringing this up with an employee while on your next shopping trip.
shop employee with mask

There are a few mistakes to avoid when you're at the grocery store during the pandemic. Shopping in a large group, paying in cash, and above all, not wearing a mask, are things you shouldn't do because they all increase your risk of catching the virus. Not only that, but it also isn't safe for grocery workers.

However, there is another thing you shouldn't do — asking an employee if there are any products in the back. 

Related: Grocery Store Workers Are Increasingly Angry at Customers for This One Reason

A lot of people are buying items in bulk right now. Stocks of products are already low because of the pandemic and the initial rush to buy items. Grocery stores were forced to raise prices when demand for some items, like meat and eggs, was super high and shelves were empty.  A carton of a dozen eggs went up to $2 in April and meat costs around double what it normally does.

Many meatpacking plants shut down because workers were getting sick, and so supply is backed up. The entire store is streamlined right now. This is especially true if you shop at a major chain supermarket like Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joes. They have policies in place for how to price items, when to put them out, and when to restock. Especially now as stores are preparing for another round of panic buying as coronavirus cases increase.

Asking a grocery worker if there is any in the back probably won't get you the answer you're looking for. Because a lot of products are out of stock, a lot of the inventory they have for super popular items are most likely on the shelves already. By asking this, you're not only interrupting an employee working, but it could be harmful to them if you're not wearing a mask and are not six feet away.

If you really need the product, an easy alternative is to assume that there is no inventory in the back. Instead, ask a worker when they might get another shipment in. Then you can stock up.

RELATED: Your ultimate supermarket survival guide is here!

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald is a health and food writer and a certified yoga instructor. Read more