8 Things Grocery Store Workers Wish Shoppers Knew Right Now

published Jul 13, 2020
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Ask anyone and they’ll probably agree that grocery shopping has became a rather stressful experience over these past few months. Just a few changes that have become part of the new normal: adjusting to walking around with a mask on, avoiding the personal space of other shoppers, and trying (often in vain) to purchase products that are in high demand. Of course, for people who work at grocery stores on a daily basis, these stresses are magnified. 

To help educate ourselves on how to be more conscientious shoppers, we asked several grocery store workers what they wished shoppers knew. Here’s what they had to say.

Credit: Courtesy of Melanie

1. Wear a mask, and wear it properly.

Wearing a mask is the simplest thing that you can do to protect others. “I know it’s annoying, but if we can do it all day, you can do it for the hour you are here,” says Alyssa, a cashier at Weis in Binghamton, NY. “That means covering your nose too.”

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Masks for Wearing to the Grocery Store (and Beyond)

2. Read as many signs around the store as you can.

Shoppers should especially take note of signs posted around the store, which could highlight announcements about new state laws, store policies, or general shopping reminders (like item limits, one-way aisles, and reusable bag restrictions). “The more you read around you, the more informed you are,” says Alyssa.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask employees for help (when necessary). 

While you should try to answer any shopping questions by yourself first (i.e., by reading signs!), store employees are still available for assistance. “While our stores are operating under social distancing guidelines, our team members are still more than happy to help you find an item, make a recommendation, or answer any questions you may have while shopping,” says Jinah Kim, a store team leader at a Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn, New York.

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4. Triple check your grocery store’s hours before making the trip.

Jinah also wishes shoppers were more aware that the chain has a dedicated shopping hour for customers who are 60 years and older, those with disabilities, and other at-risk populations. This smart policy isn’t exclusive to Whole Foods, either — many other grocery stores have implemented special shopping hours as well.

Read more: Grocery Stores Around the World Offer Special Hours Just for the Elderly

5. Mind your manners and avoid physical contact.

Anna, a Trader Joe’s cashier who asked to use a pseudonym, notes that “reaching over or past a grocery worker to grab an item and then saying ‘excuse me’ is all too common. We don’t mind stepping aside or giving you space, but when you insert yourself into ours, especially now, it only wears us down.”

The sneeze guards and barriers are there for a reason — not because you’re meant to reach or crane around them. Keep them between you and the cashier. “You should also avoid passing items to the cashier individually. We need that physical distancing too,” she says.

Credit: Diana Liang

6. Leave your reusable bags at home.

“Reusable bags are the bane of our existence,” Anna says, noting that the Trader Joe’s location she works at has temporarily banned the use of reusable bags. As an alternative to disposable bags, Anna often tells customers that they don’t need to have their items bagged at all. “They can just have them placed in the cart and bag them themselves at their car, which a lot of people take me up on.”

7. Don’t ask when a product will be back in stock.

Dock Haney, the owner of Carousel Supermarket in Panama City Beach, Florida, says that the biggest problem he faces is on the back end: keeping products in stock. This translates to a front-facing issue when customers ask his employees when certain items will be back on shelves “We have so many out of stock [products] and can’t schedule anything as normal,” Dock said. In fact, he doesn’t know what products he’s getting (and in what quantities) until the trucks arrive on delivery day with their invoices. “Put yourself in other people’s shoes who are on the front lines. We don’t know all the reasons why the store doesn’t have a product. It can be stressful.”

8. Know that everyone’s just trying their best.

Carmel Modica, a cashier at Modica Market in Seaside, Florida, has a simple message: “Know that we’re all trying really hard. We know it’s different right now, but we’re trying to make your shopping experience as easy as possible.”

What would you add to this list?