Shopping Etiquette: A Guide On How to Properly Shop

how to properly shop

The first time I remember going shopping I was with my mom. I remember being fascinated by the piles of clothes, the shiny jewelry and the endless aisle of shoes. As we navigated through each section I would watch my mom pick up each clothing item, look at it, but then neatly put it back.

As years went by and the older I got, I found myself doing exactly what my mother taught me: pick up a piece of clothing then neatly put it back, always talk to the employees with a smile and most importantly be kind. Simple as that. I thought that was how a majority of people act when shopping; however, once I began working in retail during my sophomore year of high school, that was not the case. 

Throughout the years, I have seen and dealt with the craziest customers and for that, I would like to share my shopping etiquette, or five key points on how to properly shop to not only help benefit employees but yourself as well.

Age doesn’t and shouldn’t matter

Being a 19-year-old girl working in two stores where the demographic is clearly older by decades, has led to some customers age discriminating against me. Meaning a customer would ask me a question/opinion, I would answer, but they then would proceed to go to ask someone older the same question – who would then tell them the same answer/opinion I gave them as if they did not believe what I had to say.

There is a reason kids my age or younger may work in a place where the demographic is older. That does not mean they do not know how to do their job properly. They were trained from the beginning and taught how to approach certain scenarios. If they did not know what they were doing, they would not be working there in the first place.

With that being said –regardless of the store– the employees have their jobs for a reason, including those who are younger. Age does not and should not matter when shopping. If you ask someone younger a question, please trust in them that they know what they are talking about, if you cannot do that then do not ask them in the first place, it is degrading. 

Eye contact, eye contact and did I mention EYE CONTACT

Sounds easy enough right? You can imagine how often a customer would walk in and either ignore me completely as if I did not exist, or ask a question but they are not looking at me. It is not only common courtesy, but it shows respect for the person you are talking to. This can often be taken as the customer does not care what the employee has to say and can be somewhat offensive. 

When another store of the same chain closes, it is not the end of the world.

What customers fail to realize is the fact that the employees working cannot do anything about reopening a location that has closed. My advice to you is to find the corporate number and talk to them, or just understand that the store closed for a reason. 

Please keep all undergarments on when trying on clothes

Yes…you read that right. Although this may seem like a rather obvious piece of advice it is actually quite shocking the number of customers who removed their undergarments and leave them in the fitting room. This is not only unsanitary, but who would wanna try that on? It is not fun to clean out and it is not fair to other customers. So with that being said, please leave everything on. You will thank me later. 


Plain and simple. We live in a society where everyone thinks that they are above those who are not as pretty as them or skinny or don’t have as much money. It’s because of this when people walk into stores, not just retail, they treat employees with the utmost disrespect and often neglect to remember that the employees are trying to earn a living. Whether it be someone in high school, college or a 40-year-old, everyone in this world works in some shape or form to get by in life. You don’t know what’s going on in their life and why they are working where they are. Therefore, treat everyone with kindness and respect in and out of shopping. 

Although I may only be 19, working in retail has definitely put how I shop into perspective. My mom may have taught me from the beginning but over the years I do go out of my way to help those working as much as possible because I know that’s exactly how I would want them to act towards me. I truly wish we had a rule in a society where everyone is required to work in the food industry or retail because it truly opens your eyes and teaches how to be a better person overall and I think that’s important.

Cover Image by Kami Phillips

Also published on Medium.