The Rudest Things You Can Do While Shopping

Experts share the faux pas to avoid in stores.
Save the unboxing for home after you’ve actually purchased the product.
RgStudio via Getty Images
Save the unboxing for home after you’ve actually purchased the product.

Shopping can be a joyful and exciting experience. But it can also be a hassle, filled with pressure and unpleasant interactions with other people.

“Patience is always key, but perhaps no more so than this busy time of year,” Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert and host of the “Were You Raised by Wolves?” podcast, told HuffPost. “Many etiquette crimes are related to simply not being mindful of those around you. If you don’t want to be mindful of those around you, it’ll perhaps be best to do all your shopping from the privacy and solitude of your own home.”

To make the shopping experience more seamless and enjoyable for all, we asked Leighton and other etiquette experts to share some common rude behaviours seen at stores and their advice for avoiding these faux pas.

Opening Packaged Items

Save the unboxing for home after you’ve actually purchased the product.

“Avoid opening new items to smell or sample,” said Diane Gottsman, the author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Only use the testers that are offered. If you have a question, ask the sales associate.”

Not Being Courteous With Your Cart

“Follow the rules of the road with your shopping cart,” Leighton said. “Signal before turning, yield before crossing intersections, and don’t just park in the middle of the road blocking traffic.”

Don’t forget to return your shopping cart to its designated area before you depart as well.

“Keep your cart close to you and your elbows close to each other,” echoed Jackie Vernon-Thompson, the founder of From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette. “Spatial awareness and consideration of other persons is required to manoeuvre through crowded passageways. Please park the cart thoughtfully, making sure that traffic flow is not blocked and you are allowed to access your shelves.”

Leave room for people to pass if you stop to inspect an item more closely, and refrain from obstructing movement if you pause to chat with a fellow shopper.

Leaving A Mess In The Dressing Room

“If you do not want to buy it, return the items to their respective racks or shelves provided,” Vernon-Thompson said. “A clean and comfortable dressing room makes shopping in the store easier for your next customer.”

Refrain from leaving your trash in there as well.

“Don’t bring any food or drink, and make sure you dispose of empty containers with care,” Vernon-Thompson said.

Being Unkind To Store Employees

“Be kind to the clerks,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “They are working long hours as well. Say ‘hello,’ make eye contact and thank them.”

Politeness goes a long way, especially during busy shopping times.

“Recognising that everyone there is a person just like you, with feelings, worries and families, goes a long way in making them all the more human,” said August Abbott, an etiquette expert with JustAnswer.

Not Minding Your Kids

“To avoid accidental collisions or disruptions, watch out for your children,” Vernon-Thompson said. “If your little ones are prone to tantrums, consider taking a break outside the store to address their needs without inconveniencing others.”

Smith said try to avoid bringing young children on prolonged shopping excursions when possible.

“Hire a babysitter, trade-off with a friend, guilt a grandparent,” she said. “Navigating crowds with a stroller can be precarious. And cranky kids can turn your holiday shopping from a chore to a nightmare.”

Disrupting Fellow Shoppers

“Stay away from the urge to engage in prolonged phone conversations in publicly accessible areas,” Vernon-Thompson advised. “You should step aside in a less crowded area if you must answer the phone. If you’re listening to music or watching video, use ear devices that prevent unnecessary disturbance for other people around you.”

Be mindful of your volume if you have to talk on the phone. And remember, your FaceTime or TikTok viewings should be for you only.

Don't forget to pack your patience when you go on a shopping trip.
AzmanL via Getty Images
Don't forget to pack your patience when you go on a shopping trip.

Forgetting Your Patience

“Pack your patience,” Smith said. “Everyone else is holiday shopping as well. You may need to wait for dressing rooms or registers. Use your time wisely. Check your lists, position your items so the tags and codes face out, do your yoga breathing.”

If the parking lot is completely full, she advised thinking carefully about whether you want to test your patience by shopping at that particular time. The stores will certainly be crowded. If you find yourself in a long line, relax and put in your headphones to listen to your favourite podcast or chat with your fellow shoppers if they seem interested in talking. Avoid pushing.

“Let’s embrace the art of waiting for our turn,” Vernon-Thompson said. “Patience is the virtue, whether you’re checking out or waiting in line for a fitting room. You have to be aware of your personal space. Respect the invisible bubble around fellow shoppers, giving them the breathing room they deserve.”

Acting Out (Or Engaging With Others Who Are Acting Out)

“Don’t do anything that would go viral if you were being filmed,” Leighton urged.

We’ve all seen the videos of people acting out in stores. Please don’t join them.

“When others are pushing, yelling, swearing, or otherwise behaving badly, move away and let an employee know what is happening,” Smith recommended.

Rather than feed off the negativity from others, do your best to smile and be polite.

“When you’re out in the high-stress situations of shopping for friends and loved ones in this atmosphere of money being so unsure, so tight, stress rolls like thunder beneath many of the blank stares other shoppers wear on their face,” Abbott added.

Showing Up Unprepared

Of course, you can always plan a nice afternoon of leisurely window shopping, but sometimes that’s not a great idea ― for yourself or others. Around the holiday season, for instance, it’s considerate to strategise and show up prepared. You’ll be a more pleasant shopper.

“Wear comfortable clothing and shoes you can stand in all day,” Smith recommended. “While it might be cold outside, consider leaving your bulky winter coat in the car so you do not overheat in the store. And have a sleek, easy to carry, easy to access, cross body bag to make it easy for you and hard for pickpockets.”

She also recommended eating before you go, hydrating and packing a snack.

“Shopping can take a lot out of you,” Smith said. “Schedule breaks for food and bathrooms to avoid emergency situations.”