Coronavirus has done it again. It has altered another aspect of our lives and caused us to rethink one more behavior—the way we grocery shop. The result is a new set of etiquette rules. When I began writing this column 25 years ago, it never occurred to me that grocery store etiquette would become a topic. But here I am writing to remind people how to conduct themselves while shopping for their daily bread.
During this pandemic, grocery stores have implemented new policies and procedures to protect their customers and employees. They are trying to ensure that everyone is following the recommended guidelines to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. For their part, stores have provided hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. They have posted signs and make periodic announcements reminding customers to social distance. They have marked their floors at checkout points to indicate where customers should stand. Others have gone a step further and redesigned their floor plan to create one-way traffic so customers do not find themselves passing too close to each other.
With stores doing their part, it’s time for the shopping public to do theirs. Most people are following the rules. As always there are exceptions. Those few are making it risky for others.
There are etiquette rules that everyone needs to follow in order not to be the jerk at the supermarket. Etiquette means exhibiting a strong moral code of conduct as well as being respectful and courteous towards others. As we struggle to get through this difficult time, you can do your part by paying attention to your pandemic grocery store etiquette.
Wear a mask. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s fast becoming a fashion accessory. Who would have thought? You might as well invest in more than one mask as this pandemic is most likely to be with us for a while. Why not have a little fun with it? As a reminder: you wear a mask to protect others, not yourself. Let’s all put one on.
Follow the signs. Pay attention to where you should stand. There may be places other than checkout lines where you need to keep physical distance. Respect those one-way paths.
Minimize your shopping trips. Although our governor has lifted the stay-at-home order for all but special cases, limit your visits. By doing so you can cut down on the chances of spreading the virus. Your pocketbook will thank you. You’ll plan more thoughtfully and learn to shop for only what you need.
Don’t be a hoarder. I will never look at a roll of toilet paper the same way again. It will forever be a reminder of Covid-19. Granted, some items are still scarce. Most stores have set limits on those high-demand items. Take only what you need. Leave some for other people. There will always be food on the shelves. And yes, toilet paper.
Watch where you put your hands. Some experts warn that the virus can live on certain surfaces for some time. Others disagree. Why take a chance? We know so little about this disease. Make it a habit to touch only what you plan to buy. It’s not necessary to handle five tomatoes before you settle on the one you want.
Properly dispose of gloves and wipes. The ground outside the store is not the place to toss them. Someone has to clean up after you. If you can’t find a trash can, take items home to discard them.
Shop mindfully. You may think you are invincible, but not everyone is. We continually hear that we are all in this together. Think of others; not just yourself.
Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert. Visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to learn how her virtual presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits through tough times.