Social Question

Bronny's avatar

Grocery Store Etiquette...

Asked by Bronny (714points) February 25th, 2010

When you are walking down the isle doing your grocery shopping, what do you do when you run into other people, strangers? you avoid eye contact even though you are keenly aware of them around you? What about when you are walking down a longer stretch where you can see a good 100 feet in front of you… as you are walking forward, do you pretend to be looking for something? What do you do when you notice a couple other people noticing you? And if you are the one noticing them, what kind of reaction to anticipate?...and finally, do you look at other people’s grocery carts and notice what they are buying and make judgements there in? Why do people stand so close in line, almost touching? WHAT IS PROPER GROCERY STORE ETIQUETTE???

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

45 Answers

faye's avatar

Smile, make some kind of comment-hopefully slightly funny. Human content cheers me up most days.

plethora's avatar

I hate grocery shopping so I am in and out as quickly as possibe. i say thank you and excuse me.

Bronny's avatar

@plethora : but what about the eye contact thing….I always feel like I am the one avoiding eye contact…and then when I look up because it’s too much…THERE IT IS, they are meeting eyes with me…I dont understand these people.

Blackberry's avatar

Why are people afraid to talk at the store…..? I nod, smile, say hi and make comical comments etc. People stand close because it’s all about consolidating and making space.

Bronny's avatar

Nooo. That’s the thing. I don’t want them to talk to me, I want them to politely do their thing and stay out of my way and not look at me.

Bronny's avatar

Either people seem to not be aware of other peoples boundaries or they are running their carts into you. I do live in the city so maybe it’s just us.

Blackberry's avatar

Yeah it’s just you guys. I live near a bigger city now in a different part of the country and everyone is just all about staying in their bubbles.

plethora's avatar

@Bronny Yeah, that’s what I want, but I am so intent on getting out, I never notice if they are looking at me.

Bronny's avatar

So what about the men. Do you intentionally go to the grocery store to check out women? Or if you are there just picking up a few items, and you spot someone moderately attractive…do you turn down the same isle as them whether you need something there or not?

plethora's avatar

I dont checkout women at the grocery store. They cost too much.

augustlan's avatar

It depends on the other person. Frequently, I will make a humorous comment (something like “we’ve got to stop meeting like this” or “are you following me?”), with a smile. I will talk to just about anyone, just about anywhere… but I don’t pry. Just very lightweight chit-chat. You’d be surprised how many people seem genuinely pleased to be noticed and acknowledged. Now, if the person in question is putting off a serious don’t talk to me vibe, I won’t talk to them… I feel like that would be rude. Instead, I’ll just smile and move on.

I never really pay any attention to what anyone has in their cart, and so making judgments isn’t an issue. I try to give people a little personal space in line. I personally hate to feel like I’m about to be hit in the back by the cart behind me, so I try not to give anyone else that feeling of being ‘tailgated’.

Bronny's avatar

@plethora touche! I guess I am the only one who has noticed that the grocery store is like the metro….a very sensitive social environment.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Just go about your business. Smile if you make eye contact, don’t stare at them, try not to run into each other. A big one for me is to say “excuse me” if you walk between them and the product they’re looking at. Just use basic politeness, get in and get out. Though one thing I’ve never figured out is how do you act if the cashier knows the person in front of you and has a much different attitude with them than with you when you get up there.

ninjacolin's avatar

kick people. kick as many people as possible.

Bronny's avatar

@py_sue Alright, so what about the rude people? I feel like I am ultra sensitive now in grocery stores as silly as it sounds. I go in ready for a fight. How do you handle the rude women that do the snooty, “my cart is more important than your cart” and do not say excuse me as they practically knock you over to get by? I have found that I have resorted to a lot of “REALLY?! REALLY????” or “Oh PLEASE please please please do NOT let me get in your way…”

Why is this place such a breeding ground for hostility and territory marking and creepy-guy stalking?

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@Bronny I go shopping every Black Friday for socks at Fred Meyers. I completely understand. The people who won’t move, take up the ENTIRE aisle to decide which type of cheese they want. the ones that move swiftly and then suddenly stop, and (yes) the people who make left turns like they’re in second place in the Daytona 500. Those people, I let be. I get in and get out most days and try to show them what nice people look like. Or I’m a pushover. :) They can keep they’re snooty attitude. If I’m having teriyaki chicken and rice for dinner, they can’t ruin it. Ha!

Bronny's avatar

@py_sue You are just a sweetheart then…I’m probably overly sensitive from more than 2 or 3 occasions of having some rather invasive grocery shopping experiences in the past few months where some one was standing close enough to actually look in my wallet when I opened it to grab my debit card, and make a comment on the address on my drivers license, saying that he used to live three doors down from me. Personal space, nonexistent.

DarkScribe's avatar

Why would there be any reason for a different response when approaching, meeting, seeing, someone in a grocery store as compared to any other social area of life? My reaction to anyone, anywhere depends on my mood and my impression of the other person. It doesn’t change when surrounded by groceries. (Back before I was married, I met and dated women who I discovered whilst grocery shopping.)

augustlan's avatar

<< Dated the guy who loaded the groceries into people’s cars. I was a teenager, but still… I did meet him at the grocery store!

ucme's avatar

Stay at home with kids while the wife tackles shopageddon.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In my neighborhood people smile and nod. It’s nice.

judochop's avatar

I am headphones on, head down and as fast as possible in the grocery. Unless I am with my daughter then we usually make special trips down each aisle and create new foods.

candide's avatar

you should always make eye contact with people who are sharing the air you breathe – it acknowledges their presence and announces yours. You can even say good morning/afternoon/evening if you like, but that does not mean that you are obliged to start a conversation, nor does it imply you want to go pick out curtains with them, it just demonstrates your respect for others who are in your space and makes people feel more comfortable. When you make eye contact, people tend to be nicer because you become people to each other rather than an impersonal ‘other’

Cruiser's avatar

I usually speed shop and it’s pretty obvious by the sheer speed of my cart. Mom’s grabbing their kids out of my way. I will always be polite and yell :comin through” that is proper store etiquette.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Depends on the time of day, and how crowded the store is. If I’m looking at a trying a new product, and someone else is looking at it, I might ask them if they’ve tried it before. If I keep crossing paths with people, I smile and make eye contact. I’m far too much into get-in-get-out mode to check out other people’s carts. I usually run into neighbors at the grocery, so sometimes the trip does get a little chatty. And I know the checkers. And people generally ask about where I purchased my grocery bags (Ikea).

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I usually look at them and smile.If I am in line ,alot of times,I will end up talking to the person next to me especially if they have Twinkies in their cart ;)

jbfletcherfan's avatar

If someone makes eye contact with me, I’ll speak & smile. And a lot of times, I’ll talk to people, either in the aisles or in the check-out line. I’ve had people ask me things about products. I remember the young husband who asked me for help on feminine pads for his wife. LOL

janbb's avatar

@jbfletcherfan I have that experience too. I think we people who work in libraries give off an “Ask me a question” vibe!

I usually tend to smile and nod at people who are approaching me face to face; I think I have a friendly affect.

john65pennington's avatar

Once a week, i do the grocey shopping for my 92 year old mother, so i understand this question thoroughly. since if have been buying groceries from this one particular Krogers Store, all the employees know me well. i rarely meet a stranger. if i see someone i know, then the conversation begins. and yes, i notice what other people buy and have in their grocery carts. if a person has four cases of beer, you can assume that either this person is an alocholic or is planning a party. i once observed an obese lady with a cart full of diet food and mentally, i wished her good luck. waiting in the grocery checkout line has never been a problem for me. i once had an elderly woman help me unload my cart. i think she was flirting with me. she did everything except ask for my number.

Seek's avatar

@Bronny needs to start doing his shopping online. I tend to be pretty friendly in the grocery, especially to the employees. If they know you, and like you, they’re more likely to help. Just last week, they were totally out of packages of sushi nori, so the sushi chef just gave me a bunch. Saved me 5 bucks and an hour drive to the health food store.

Trillian's avatar

I nod and smile and go on about my day. I don’t feel any need to strike up a conversation, but I acknowledge people who are in my sphere. I get the hell out of the way and stay to the right, I don’t try to check more that 20 items in the 20 items or less lane. I also decide what the hell I want before I open a freezer door, and if I have a tough time finding something, I park my cart all the way over so there is never a blocked section of the aisle. if I need to get around someone who is stupid and rude, I maintain courtesy and say “Excuse me”. If someone needs to get around me, I apologize for being in the way. Courtesy costs nothing and causes less unnecessary friction in an experience that many people hate.

CMaz's avatar

I abandon my cart and run.

Supacase's avatar

I don’t make an effort to make or refuse eye contact. If it happens, I smile then go back to what I’m doing. My side of grocery store conversations is usually “excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” “that’s ok” or “oh no, you’re not in my way.”

Occasionally I will joke or laugh with someone in a strange situation. The other day a lady and I came to the same spot at the same time and only one of us could go at a time. I said, “Strange place to put that pole!” and she rolled her eyes and said “I know! Why would they do that.” We shrugged and moved on.

Very rarely I will offer my opinion if I hear people discussing or see someone seriously considering a product I know well.

shego's avatar

When I am at the store, I excuse myself when crossing in front of others. I have had several times when the person took offense because I walked in front of them and they said something inappropriate to me, and that’s when I make my move and then stand right in front of them blocking their view. I know it’s stupid but they couldn’t keep their mouth shut. I also talk to people when Ian at the store, and they give reciepe ideas, or they just want to talk. I have no problems with that.
Now when I was in high school, I weighted a lot more than I do now, so I always had people staring at me. So I even had people tell me some really hurtful things. So during that time, If people wanted something to stare at, I gave them something to stare at my big shiny ass.
But now I’m not that stupid, and I don’t care. I go in and get my groceries.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@janbb This may be very true. I never thought of that.

@john65pennington LOLL…John you may have passed up an opportunity. :D

Trillian's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr You make your own luck, do you not? Well said, well done.

tinyfaery's avatar

Another good thing about living in L.A.—we all just ignore each other. No ackwardness or expectations. Nice.

Bronny's avatar

I suppose city life is different that your average town…I grew up in a medium sized, small town mind set place so I understand the greet your neighbor, talk to everyone, now the cashier.

But in the middle of a metropolitan you run the risk of inviting attention, and encouraging conversations with people who might not have been raised in the same accepting open minded way.

If you do not understand this, or think it is over paranoid of a late thirties, fit, not unattractive career woman then you obviously have not lived the reality that is city living. Regardless, their are weirdos everywhere, and those are the ones I am asking about.

Also for me, not to be rude, but if you are in line and chatting up the cashier when you have 10 people behind you waiting for you to finish you monologue about your grandmother in the hospital so that they can get home and feed their families after working 8–10 hours…please do your jabbering on a SATURDAY, when it’s realistic to take your time enjoying the hours.

For us here, living 10 miles away means an hour home in traffic. In regards to sharing other peoples air and therefore being obligated to connect to them in other ways because of that, is rather dramatic. It’s nice to hear about all of your warm hearted feelings towards other shoppers. I think that’s great, and I wish more people were like you. Were someone to smile at me in passing in just that genuine, silent, “excuse me” way, I might feel a little more open to going out of my way to do the same.

But unfortunately MY experiences in the grocery store have given off the impression that a lot of men just go there to wonder around and gape at the women, and the women go there to get out of the house, surround themselves with people, and not feel so lonely. It’s comforting to be around other people some times, and I get that.

It’s the extremes that get me. It blows my mind how many down right creepy people actually exist to wander this earth, and how many rude inconsiderate women…typically older, who get some sort of inert pleasure out of cutting off younger women and making a point to disregard them.

Don’t think of me as bitter due to the tone I hold in this thread. Typically, I am the idealist in search of reality to balance out automatic trust I tend to want to give. But SHOPPING, particularly GROCERY shopping…let’s just say I’ve got my padded gloves on, so get hell out of my way.

@Seek_Kolinahr would you pay an additional $75/ $100 a week to have someone do your shopping for you? I wouldn’t. I would rather find ways to deal with it on my own and use that money for things that count. Hence this post and my curiosity at other people’s viewpoints and moods when they are caught in the hustle and bustle.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Bronny Are you in NYC? Your description reminds me of it. I think I’m getting homesick. :-)

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think you’re getting confirmation bias, frankly. I’ve never had but one or two incidences of the type you mention and I’ve lived in NYC for 16 years. I’m from a medium-sized Midwestern burg as well. And I’m a passable female. Maybe you’re Uma Thurman? In which case, hi. I need a production job. And chatty grandmas in the queue are just a fact of life we have to live with.

Pay attention to yourself the next time you go to the market. If you’re checking out people to make sure they’re not hitting on you or interacting with you, you’re already drawing attention to yourself. Stop that. Take a few deep breaths instead and try not to let what other people do affect you so much.

Bronny's avatar

@aprilsimnel you are probably right to a large degree. as i stated in an earlier comment, I’m aware that I am probably just oversensitive at this point due to some rather negative experiences that stick out in my mind. Thank you all for your comments :)

thriftymaid's avatar

I don’t think I have any particular strong grocery shopping behaviors. I mainly try not to crash into the pickles.

knitfroggy's avatar

I smile at people or say hello, generally. If it’s someone I keep meeting in every aisle, I will do as @augustlan said and say something like “we must be following each other” etc. I’m generally a friendly person, so I have no problem smiling and saying Hi to people. Also I work retail, so I am used to saying hello to everyone I pass in the store. And when I’m shopping, customers that know me from working there look as if they expect me to acknowledge them. It cracks me up when I will run into a regular customer in a different store and they say something to me about being at the wrong store or that I’m a traitor because I’m shopping somewhere other than where I work. It makes me smile.

essieness's avatar

This is so funny.

I moved to a huge city about 8 months ago from a small town, and this has been one of my biggest adjustments: the freakin’ grocery store. I’m just not used to all the people around. I’d like some time to ponder the cheese. I’d like a little room to scan the cereals. Ugh! I tend to keep to myself and get out of there as soon as possible. I’ll chat it up with the clerk while he’s ringing up my stuff, but that’s about it.

I’m normally a very social person.

Bronny's avatar

@knitfroggy thank you! me too! Ah, this makes me feel so much better. I typically love the human race in general but I suppose not being used to big city life and coming in as an outsider you have to learn to be territorial to a certain degree to get anything done. I appreciate that you can relate.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther