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Shoppers left divided over ‘unspoken rule’ in supermarkets

Niamh Spence

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| Last updated 

Shoppers left divided over ‘unspoken rule’ in supermarkets

Featured Image Credit: Tom Werner/Oscar Wong/Getty Images

We've all been there, standing in the supermarket queue clutching a couple of items and watching as the people in front of you appear to be taking home the biggest trolley full of shopping that could feed the five thousand.

The question is, do you politely ask to hop ahead and be served quickly or do you wait your turn?

There's an 'unspoken rule' in the supermarket and people have very different opinions on it. Credit: Pixabay
There's an 'unspoken rule' in the supermarket and people have very different opinions on it. Credit: Pixabay

Apparently there is an 'unspoken' rule that those with only a few items should be granted quick access in the supermarket, but people have very mixed feelings about it.

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The discussion of queue hopping came up on the the Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK Facebook group, and it's seen some strong opinions on the 'unspoken rule'.

One person, who was in support of the unofficial rule, wrote: "Yes, usually they are through and paid before I have finished unpacking. I was once behind a woman with two trolleys and I only had one item. Other people commented on how they would let me go in front if it was them (I hadn't even asked) and she then turned round and started shouting at everyone!"

Another, that would gladly let someone ahead if they had just a few items, added: "Yes! Especially when I'm doing a monthly shop if you've got a few items in your hand then you go through! I'm gunna [sic] be a while."

Should you let someone with just a few items go ahead of you in the supermarket queue? Credit: Pexels
Should you let someone with just a few items go ahead of you in the supermarket queue? Credit: Pexels
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A third said: "I always let them in front if they only have a couple of bits."

Another, who saw it as a good act of karma as they declared it the 'unspoken rule' of supermarkets, commented: "Always offer. Sometimes people say no. It's just the unspoken rule isn't it."

Not everyone was happy to give up their place in the queue though.

One person responded "No cos last time I did that their mate turned up with more shopping than me [sic]."

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Someone else suggested it was about waiting to be asked, rather than asking first: "People shouldn't ask if they can go in front; they should wait to be offered. Really annoys me when it's just expected of them like we all have to wait. It's happened to me a few times where the checkout assistant has told someone behind me to come in front - that should be my decision and I'd gladly let them normally but I should choose!"

Some shoppers say those with less items should wait to be asked to queue jump, rather than offering themselves. Credit: Pexels
Some shoppers say those with less items should wait to be asked to queue jump, rather than offering themselves. Credit: Pexels

With good arguments from both sides, how do we know what's the right thing to do?

As part of an etiquette campaign with Preply, a etiquette expert John-Paul Stuthridge said: "Few gestures of kindness are so easy to implement with zero cost to the person who performs it.

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"If you have a full trolley, I'd always suggest taking a quick look behind to see if anyone has just a couple of things. It makes no difference to you, but a big difference to them."

So there's the answer, don't ask if you can queue jump but wait to be offered and if you're the one with the huge weekly shop in your trolley, then look to see if anyone is standing with just two items and could quickly skip ahead.

Topics: Shopping, Life

Niamh Spence
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