14 Polite Habits That Grocery Store Employees Secretly Dislike

Bag these behaviors! They know you mean well, but the employees at your favorite grocery store wish you'd stop doing these things.

1 / 14

Miami Beach, Publix grocery store, cashier wearing face mask, gloves and new plexiglass shield protection
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Using the divider wrong at checkout

According to meteorologist Ryan Vaughan in a viral Facebook post, we may not be as helpful with the dividers as we thought. In order to keep the conveyer belt from moving once it’s reached the end of your groceries, place the divider the long way down the middle of the belt instead of right behind your items. This’ll also give plenty of distance between your groceries and the next person in line’s so there’s no confusion for the checkout clerk.

2 / 14
U.S. bills and coins in cash register
Tetra Images/Getty Images

Counting out change

Cashiers do love when customers are able to hand over the exact amount of their purchase, but counting out a fistful of pennies and nickels one-by-one can be irksome—especially if there’s a line behind you. (Hello, dropped quarters!) If you’re looking to pay with loose change, save yourself the hard math and hand over what you can to the cashier for them to count. And if you do have a large amount of change, try to check out at a less-busy time.

3 / 14

Plastic bags in supermarket
Education Images/Getty Images

Not letting employees bag your groceries

We get it. You’re paying good money for your groceries, so obviously you want every item to make it home in one piece. But insisting on packing up your own order (especially when it’s a big haul) slows the whole line down. Baggers and cashiers oftent have a system, and you’re just interrupting it. Become a real pro at the grocery store with these smart grocery shopping tips.

4 / 14

Produce Aisle
Mint Images/Getty Images

Expecting your cashier to know what type of fruit is in season

If you have a specific question, don’t save it until you get to the register. Chances are, your cashier isn’t going to know much about seasonal produce, cuts of meat or if a specific bakery item is in stock. It’s best to ask an employee of the appropriate department, or head to the customer service desk so they can call someone to come help you.

5 / 14

Employee in supermarket serving senior customer with face mask
Drazen_/Getty Images

Too much chit-chat

Of course, some friendly chat is nice, but many stores track the items scanned per minute to judge an employee’s performance. Keep the conversation light and when you’re done paying and packing up, exit the line. Your clerk (and the folks behind you) will appreciate it. Psst! Did you know this is also one of the polite habits fast-food employees dislike?

6 / 14

check pen
ATU Images/Getty Images

Filling out a check at the register

If you’re paying for your order by check, you likely won’t need to fill out every section. In fact, most machines are capable of running the check (and voiding it out) while it’s blank. Balancing your checkbook at the register is not only unnecessary, but it can hold up the entire line.

Be sure to know the secrets Aldi employees won’t tell you.

7 / 14

Grocery Shopping With Reusable Shopping Bag At Supermarket
Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Consolidating your fruits and veggies

Even if your three kinds of apples are the exact same price, don’t bag them together. The codes are different for each kind of produce (even different varieties), and stores use these to track inventory. So keep them separate at the store, but feel free to mix them up in our apple dessert recipes.

8 / 14


Loading all your items onto the belt

If you’re buying four cases of sparkling water, the clerk only needs one to scan. They’d rather not move all of them across the scanner. And it’s less heavy lifting for you.

9 / 14

woman leaving grocery store

Lifting everything out of your cart

Most stores have scanning guns that reach, so leave heavy items in the cart to save the cashier some unnecessary arm strain.

10 / 14

Florida, Miami Beach, Publix grocery store cashier and customer wearing face masks and gloves, the new normal
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Sneaking into the express line

We all know about the 10 items or less lane. But what if you know you have 15 items (probably more)? It can’t hurt to sneak in, right? Wrong. The fast lane is there for a reason. If you genuinely didn’t realize you had more than 10 items, don’t sweat it, but don’t cheat the system if you can help it. Don’t miss these sneaky ways grocery stores trick you into spending more.

11 / 14

Miami Beach, Florida, Normandy Isle, Sabor Tropical Supermarket, customer checking out checkout cashier line
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Telling baggers “whatever’s easier”

If your answer to “paper or plastic?” is “whatever’s easier,” keep in mind that what is easier is not having to decide for you. If you really don’t have a preference, opt for paper, which is more easily recyclable than plastic bags. Better yet, bring your own bags, but maybe know how to wash the reusable bags first.

12 / 14

Florida, Milams Supermarket, Sanctuary Exotic Tea, free samples
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Taking (then ditching) free samples

Don’t feel the need to take a cube of cheese if you’re just going to squirrel it away on a shelf or toss it. You won’t hurt the sample person’s feelings. They’d rather not waste the food—or find it the next day behind the Rice Krispies. Learn the other secrets that Costco sample employees wish you knew.

13 / 14

Orange Juice Prices Rise After Florida's Smallest Harvest In Almost 90 Years
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Not bothering employees to put items away

If you change your mind about that hummus that was on special and you don’t remember exactly where you found it, don’t guess—or worse yet, leave it in a non-refrigerated section. Instead, give it to a cashier or other employee. The staff would rather restock it the right way than stumble across it later.

14 / 14
Woman Taking a Number in Deli
Chuck Savage/Getty Images

Waiting patiently (without a number)

If they’re giving out numbers at the bakery counter, stick to them. Letting that nice, numberless elderly man cut in front of you is going to mess up the system and cause confusion and crankiness.

Cathryn Jakicic
Cathy Jakicic has written about everything from business and bacteria to beads and baking in her career —but she greatly prefers the last two. She is a baker and a crafter and loves to try new recipes for both.