Squeezing melons and tickling plums. Supermarket etiquette (Part Two)

Now that we have negotiated the car park, it is time to step inside the supermarket.

No matter what supermarket you prefer, or where you are in the world, most of them are set out the same. Long term, this is so we can send our robot butlers shopping for us but in the short term, it is so we can do the weekly shop whilst on autopilot. Sometimes spending upwards of £100 without even realising we have been there.

It is important to realise that supermarket assume two things about you. Firstly, they think you are a shoplifter. This is why vegetables are nearest the door and booze is the furthest from the entrance.

Nobody is going to pop in and make a quick dash with a turnip stuck up their jumper, similarly, anyone trying to leg it with a tray of Carling will probably stop for a can and a nap before they reach the exit.

Secondly, they assume that you are stupid. Very, very stupid. And we are, all of us. We all fall for the special offers, the 3 for 2 when you didn’t even want one.

Once you realise that they are laughing at us, it’s hard not to go into your nearest Tesco and boot over the beans display. But we’re not like that, we’re a civilised society and we should make the supermarket experience as painless for others as we can.

Know your route

As mentioned above, all supermarkets are set out roughly the same so you should know where you are going. The simplest route is up the first aisle, down the next and so on until you are done. Occasionally people like to shop in teams, husband and wife pairings being very popular. It is common practice for the husband to drive the trolley along the main thoroughfare whilst the wife goes up and down the aisles collecting whatever they don’t need.


Much like a Hollywood blockbuster where the music gets louder as the tension builds, the husband’s tutting can reach ear shattering levels if he is made to wait. If the wife leaves it too long to return to the trolley, the inevitable response is “Where’ve you been for fucks sake? We could have grown/brewed/cooked/made it in the time it took you to pick it up.”

Some people like to do the route in reverse, go to the far end and work their way back. They are probably wrong uns but aren’t harming anyone.

The important thing, whatever route you choose, is to keep moving. Once you stop, either to chat to a neighbour you hate, or to read the ingredients of a Weightwatchers cream bun, chaos ensues.

If you must talk to someone, ensure that you are as out of the way as possible and you keep chat to a minimum whilst keeping an eye on your surroundings so you know if you are blocking anybody else.

Once you have chatted, it is inevitable that you will see them in the next aisle and the next. Unless they are doing a reverse shop in which case you probably shouldn’t be speaking to them anyway.

The second time you see them, the correct response is “You again?”, the third, a nervous laugh, the fourth, raise your eyebrows in recognition and if you are likely to see them in a fifth aisle, it is common protocol to abandon your trolley and leave the supermarket.

Common decency

I feel like you should already know this but there are some things that are strictly forbidden in a supermarket. Anybody breaking these rules should be delivered to the butcher counter, chopped up and put in the deep freeze under the chicken dinosaurs.

Farting – Insane that people think that it is appropriate but letting rip next to the lettuce is not on.

Pyjamas, onesies etc – Don’t do it you scruffy bugger.

Manhandling food – Unless something is obviously off, if you handle it, you buy it. Don’t go round squashing loaves of bread. Squeezing melons or tickling plums is no more appropriate in a supermarket than it is in your local pub.

Talking to strangers – You may hear tales of Supermarket singles nights where the person with the biggest cucumber in their basket is most up for it, (and that’s just the blokes) but they are urban myths. You are not going to find love in the sausage aisle, romance amongst the Romaine lettuces or your sweetheart in the sweet … you get the point. Buy your bait and get out in silence. Think of all the films where people meet in supermarkets, one of them always ends up dead.

Being rude to staff – They may be stood chatting, they may think that filling the shelves is more important than you getting stuff off them, they may be nursing a massive hangover and hiding from their boss.  Doesn’t give you the right to abuse them. Treat them as you would like to be treated.


Now that we’ve skirted round the supermarket in record time, got everything we wanted without blocking anybody’s way or chatting unnecessarily, it is time to approach the tills. Stay tuned for my next blog where I will tackle this potential minefield.

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