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It's time to be supermarket savvy
February 6, 2019 | 12:19 PM
by Carolann Philips
 
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Going by the number of cars lined up outside, I can’t help but conclude that supermarkets are popular shopping venues. I happened to read somewhere that the second most dangerous place in the world to drive is, on a road. The first is, in a supermarket. Children running around, babies in carts, senior citizens treading precariously on slippery floors, unattended carts in the middle of the aisle; the list can go on.

The supermarket should be a safe, friendly, and courteous environment where everyone is able to pick their favourite selection of wares. However, unknowingly perhaps, many of us are guilty of flouting some rules of grocery shopping etiquette, so a refresher might be helpful.

Shopping carts


Pushing the shopping cart is like driving a car and the aisles are like the lanes on the road. When passing, keep to your right. This avoids a head on collision with another cart. It is both impolite and unsafe to leave a cart in the middle of the aisle while browsing through the shelves. Instead, proper cart driving protocol suggests pulling over to the side of the aisle.

It is not only courteous but safe to leave a considerable distance between your cart and the shopper in front. This way, there would be fewer hurt toes or bruised shins.

It is rude to peer into someone else’s shopping basket or cart, as if taking an inventory of everything, or trying to figure out what the person might hypothetically be doing with that stuff! After use, it’s courteous to remove used tissues, empty bottles, wrappers and other waste from the cart or basket. Returning the cart to the cart corral is civil and kind, instead of abandoning it in the parking lot where it may roll and hit another shopper’s car.

Shopping for items

Socializing with a neighbour or friend in a supermarket is best limited to a friendly “hello!”, but if it has to be a long conversation, don’t crowd the aisles. Choose a spot that is out of everybody’s way instead.

Snacking on grapes, nuts, or other displayed wares as you shop is poor etiquette besides being unhygienic as well. It is improper to stand with the freezer doors open while deciding whether to take vanilla or butterscotch; chicken nuggets or shrimps. The freezer doors are made of glass so that we can look through them and decide what to buy before opening them. Asking a shop assistant to check in the back for an item, and then not waiting for him or her to return is rude. It means that the service effort was a waste, and that time could have been spent on another customer. If you change your mind about the purchase, wait for the assistant’s return and apologize for the inconvenience while thanking him or her for the service.

Checkout lines

It’s not proper to take advantage of the express lane if purchases exceed the limit. Avoid speaking on the phone at check out. It shows disrespect for the cashier who is offering a service.

Stand in front of the cart when placing items on the cashier’s conveyor. It’s the lowest side of the cart and so makes it easier, and quicker, to remove all items. If you’re paying the bill, allow other family members shopping with you to walk ahead out of the lane. This avoids overcrowding the lane. It is considerate to give exchange coupons, or anything pertinent to the cashier, before the sale is made. Not doing so, may require the transaction to be cancelled or changed, and this usually involves getting a manager’s signature -wasting everyone’s time in line and also the effort and time of the cashier.

It is considered impolite to place money on the counter while making payment. Most cashiers find picking up the money a problem - especially coins! Give it in the cashier’s hand instead.

These few guidelines, if followed, may justify the idea that the customer is always right.

Carolann Philips is an award winning, certified management coach and organisational development coach based in Oman. She is also a talent developer, etiquette and protocol consultant. She specialises in behavioural skill development and professional performance enhancement.

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