Skip To Content

    17 Things You Might Be Doing That Make Work 10 Times Harder For Grocery Store Workers

    They truly aren't paid enough for all this nonsense. πŸ‘€

    Listen β€” grocery shopping can be stressful. There are long lines, tons of people (and their carts) to maneuver around, and β€” of course β€” really tasty-looking snacks that threaten to derail your grocery budget.

    People in a packed grocery store
    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    There's a lot going on at once, and unfortunately, that sometimes brings out the worst in people. Still, it's not that hard to be a considerate customer! It's been a long and particularly rough year and a half for grocery store workers, so I think it's a great time to talk about the little things we can do (and not do) to make things a little easier on them. And β€” spoiler alert β€” it's all really, really easy!


    I spoke with an anonymous grocery store worker from a major US chain, and here are some of the biggest customer no-nos they shared:

    1. Putting things back in the wrong places.

    Man holding two bottles in a grocery aisle
    Noel Hendrickson / Getty Images

    Understandably, sometimes you change your mind about whether or not you want to buy something, but it's not that hard to put things back where you found them! At the very least, don't leave something like a frozen food item on a random shelf where it'll go bad.Β 

    2. Assuming "the back" is a magical place where they have extras of everything not on the shelf.

    Apple TV

    ~The back~ definitely isn't as big as you think it is, so if a popular item is out of stock on the shelves, there's a good chance there isn't more in the back, either.Β 

    3. Acting as if employees are in the way when they're trying to stock new items.

    Donna Meagle saying "Excuse me?"

    4. Unstacking or digging through items to find a better expiration date.

    Woman sorting through jars and looking at dates
    Getty Images

    Not only does this just make a bigger mess for employees to clean up later, but more often than not, the dates on the back are the same date as the ones in the front. Here's a ~hot tip~ for you: Sometimes the dates in the front are better, actually! When things are busy, newer items occasionally get stacked in the front instead of rotated with the ones in the back. Either way, you're not going to find dramatically different dates, so do yourself β€” and everyone else β€” a favor and just grab one in the front.

    5. Insisting that employees rearranged the whole store when you can't find the item you're looking for.

    Kyle Mooney on SNL saying "Where is it?"

    It might sound ~wild~, but you maybe, possibly, perhaps...were in the wrong aisle?

    6. Assuming that employees work at a grocery store because they're not as smart as you.

    A woman from Real Housewives saying, "Wow, that is so rude"

    Unfortunately, some people don't consider service jobs like working at a grocery store to be a "real job," or look down on workers as "uneducated." For example, the employee I talked to shared a story about a customer trying to explain steak, because they assumed the employee didn't know what it was. Service jobs are real jobs β€” just because someone doesn't work an office job doesn't mean they aren't smart.Β A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into running a grocery store, and you'd be surprised how picky they can be about the people they hire.Β 

    7. Freaking out when you find a moldy piece of produce.

    Moldy Strawberries
    Alina Rosanova / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    Listen β€” produce is produce. Sometimes things go bad; it's just what happens. If you see something moldy, let an employee know and they'll take care of it, no big deal! You don't have to buy it, and it doesn't mean everything there is bad. But throwing a fit about it definitely doesn't do anyone any good.

    8. Touching an employee to get their attention.

    Someone touching another person's back
    Shotshare / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    In general, you probably shouldn't be physically touching people you don't know, but this is especially a no-no during a pandemic.Β 

    9. Alternatively, snapping your fingers or whistling at employees to get their attention.


    They! Are! People! Not! Dogs!

    10. Also, just yelling the name of the item you're looking for at an employee.

    Britney Spears wincing
    Access Hollywood

    A quick "Hi!" or "Excuse me!" is all you need, y'all! You don't need to have a whole conversation, but it's not that hard to treat people like, well, people.

    11. Thinking you can treat employees however you want because it's their job to serve you.


    12. Letting kids wreak havoc on the store unattended.

    A kid pushing another kid in a cart
    Jon Hicks / Getty Images

    It can definitely be hard to get your grocery shopping done and keep kids entertained, but that doesn't mean it's okay to let them climb things, run around, and unload things from the shelves. It's super easy to make a big, expensive mess.

    13. Specifically, letting kids climb the carts.

    A cart in a grocery store aisle
    Jenwit Ritbundit / Getty Images / EyeEm

    Sometimes parents get upset that the carts are unsafe for children, but the reality is that they're made to carry groceries, not for kids to climb on. Carts can and will flip over when kids climb them, and they might get hurt.Β 

    14. Telling employees what products they should or shouldn't be stocking.

    Two people in the dairy section
    Thierry Dosogne / Getty Images

    15. Using the motorized shopping carts β€” and especially letting your kids use them β€” when they don't need them.

    A woman in a motorized cart
    Juanmonino / Getty Images

    Do motorized carts look like fun sometimes? Sure! But they're there for a reason, and that reason is not for kids to run into things or for you to make people who actually need the carts wait until you're done.

    16. Expecting store employees to handle corporate issues, and getting mad when they can't or don't.

    A man in a store vest looking confused

    Sometimes a customer issue requires someone higher up to get the ball rolling, and there really is nothing else the kind folks at your store can do.

    17. And finally, forgetting that produce is seasonal.

    Fall produce, including carrots, pumpkins, squash, cabbage, apples, and potatoes
    Brzozowska / Getty Images

    In this day and age, I think a lot of us have gotten used to getting items pretty close to instantly. We're generally lucky in the US in being able to get a lot of different fruits and vegetables year-round, but at the end of the day, produce is seasonal! Sometimes certain items aren't available because they aren't in season or because of shortages. Alternatively, sometimes these products are available but are more expensive or simply aren't as good as when they're in season. It's just the way things work, and unfortunately, there's nothing your neighborhood grocery store workers can do about it.

    Fellow grocery store workers β€” did we miss anything? If so, let us know in the comments below!

    And everyone else: Please, please be nice to your neighborhood grocery store employees!Β