Grocery Shopping Etiquette


First of all I would like to thank everybody out there, who are making sure that we can handle this situation, and as my topic is about grocery stores/supermarkets etiquette during the coronavirus epidemic, I would like to applaud to those, who are working in the food supplies industry, and making sure that we have source to food, including those, who are making sure that the stores are well stocked, and shelves are getting refilled, not forgetting about the cashier, cleaning staff and the security person.

Our daily routine has drastically changed in the last few weeks, but thankfully the supermarkets are still open. I guess in most part of the world, the grocery shopping fewer has been already over, but in case we need to grab something from the store, please consider these suggestions.

  • Before going to the store, think about if you really need to go there or not, check your fridge, freezer, and stock at home, and write a list of what you really need, and plan ahead a bit. Think about what will you be cooking or eating in the coming days or weeks. Take into consideration if you are alone, in couple or you have a family.
  • Please think about if you are considered as a high risk person (elderly, serious illness patient) or not, and if you are, please don't go anywhere. Order instead! OR Ask a trusted helper, who will do the shopping for you, and if you don't have that person, there are many options online, where you could order your groceries from supermarkets.
  • If you decide to order food, make sure that you communicate clearly to the delivery person that you want your bag of food outside your door. You or the delivery person could be the carrier of the virus, so the best is to reduce the contact to the minimum. Always make sure that you wash your hands, before picking up the bag, and after you have picked it up. Later I will mention what to do with anything that's coming from the outside.
  • In some places,for example in Hungary, butchers and small family owned supermarkets are offering delivery service. In general I encourage people to buy from smaller shops, let's help local businesses.
  • If you are healthy, and you still want/need to go to the supermarket. Firstly ask your neighbors or anybody in need if they would like something from the store. Let's pay attention to the others.

Importantly, go to stores when it's not crowded. We all know by now that the virus is mainly transmitted through close contact, so it's better to avoid the crowd. If you happen to go when the store is packed, just take what you need quickly and leave. If you see friends, just wave them and when you are at home, and safe send them a message or call them, but don't stop and start chatting with people in the supermarket. If it's necessary to ask anybody for anything, keep the distance of 1 meter / 10 feet.

In most supermarkets in Hungary, as soon as you enter you are obliged to sanitize your hands, and even they do the disinfection of the shopping cart for you, but if this is not the case yet in your country, then I would suggest to take hand sanitizers or sanitizing wipes, if you were lucky enough and have those, so you can clean your basket before touching it. Sanitize your hand, and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth...

Also I would like to mention here that this is time when we have to look, but not touch. So before checking the labels on every single box on the shelves, think about why it is not a good idea, so please don't touch, but look instead. Also here I would like to underline that the same applies to fruits and vegetables.

In the supermarket, please don't hoard beyond what you really need, take the necessary items. If you see only 2 packs of rice for instance, think about the others... and only take 1 pack at the time.

Be still kind and warm. If anybody needs help or guidance, don't be rude, keep the rule of social distancing, but you can still be nice to people. Please, be extra kind to the cashier. Imagine these people working in the grocery stores, and they are surrounded by stressed people all the time during this pandemic, so please make their job as smooth as possible, when it's your turn ask them how are they, and thank them upon leaving.


  • After the shopping is done, we need to disinfect the food packaging, the nonporous items. Packages that are not allowing air or liquid to pass through it, cans, glass bottles, jars, plastic, and metal. Use your disinfectant wipes or spray some liquid and wipe it off from the products. Also disinfect the surface what your shopping bag has touched.
  • Regarding fruits and vegetables, wash them in warm water, and rub off any dirt from them. Don't use any disinfectant liquid or anything, it's not healthy.

Be smart about this situation, wash your hands, sanitize your hands, if you are a high risk person, don't go, and if you are healthy don't go neither, unless it's really necessary. Be nice and offer a smile, which is contagious anyways(in a good way).