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New retail etiquettes will apply to pop up too !


A recent comment on retail etiquettes, at Reader’s Digest begins : “In our new normal, nothing is, well, normal”. Yep, I gotta agree with that ! The article quotes Maryanne Parker (“international business, social and youth etiquette expert”) saying “the (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a dramatic change in social etiquette, practically overnight…” Hmm, that also gets a tick from me…

As individuals and businesses try to navigate that ‘new normal’, many of our social pleasantries seem to have gone out the door, replaced by a harsher (and more self-centred) reality. And whilst we’re currently engaging less with “traditional” retail, whatever social rules now deemed necessary will probably carry into our post-COVID shopping world… that includes pop up too.

The author of Etiquette mistakes everyone is making at retail stores suggests 16 ways people are coping with the new normal… here’s a summary of the (new) rules for retail etiquette (& I’ve added an extra one of my own !) :

16 etiquette mistakes…

  1. Talking about going shopping could be the biggest faux pas of going shopping at all. “It may be a mistake to tell anyone you’ve been to a department store,” a source says, referring to “strong differences of opinion about what is and is not ‘essential’ shopping… and it goes without saying that you probably shouldn’t post about it on social media either”
  2. Handing your items to the cashier is a new no-no – “minimize contact with the cashier… when checking out, mention right away that you will hold the items up so the tags can be easily scanned,” offers another source. “Then either ask for them to give you a bag or bring your own… so you can fold and bag your own items”
  3. Fighting return policies (don’t) – “some customers react with anger and frustration when they can’t get their money back or it takes longer than they thought. Ask about their current return policy before you buy anything and don’t argue with the associate about it, they don’t make the rules”
  4. Picking up an item to look at it…“touching everything around you was considered bad etiquette even before the pandemic, but now it is seen as inconsiderate, negligent, and even jeopardizing people’s health… Only pick up what you really want to buy and keep handling it to a minimum” (don’t squeeze the avocados !)
  5. Sampling something you’d like “to try before you buy” is obviously a risk these days – “testing out lipsticks, lotions, spice mixes, jellies, and other products before purchasing was already kind of gross but it was acceptable (pre-pandemic). Now, COVID-19 has made sampling downright dangerous.”
  6. Paying with cash is another no-no… “try to figure out a contactless way to pay as this is safer and more hygienic for everyone… use a credit or debit card, pay online, use a phone app, or other digital method.”
  7. Chatting up strangers is unhealthy ! – ”being kind and friendly while in a store is still good etiquette but starting conversations with strangers isn’t… simply speaking increases the number of germs you spread, even with a mask on. The rule now is that the friendly and caring thing to do… is to keep to yourself.”
  8. Trying on clothing… “Don’t do this. Yes, it means you have to go with the unreliable ‘hold the pants against your body’ method but that’s better than contaminating clothing for others.” If fitting rooms are open, the article suggests a disinfectant wipe before and after use.
  9. Complaining about inventory. Stock shortages may be frustrating, but complaining about it won’t fix the supply chain. “You have the choice to complain, settle for what you can find in the store, or shop online – (but) only two of those things will get you what you want.”
  10. Respect the 6-foot bubble. “It’s not just a personal choice, it’s a safety issue, and people may feel physically threatened if you get within their bubble” – including while browsing in-store and waiting in-line.
  11. Don’t ignore directional arrows, or designated entry and exit doors…”pay attention to and follow the directions, even if it’s inconvenient.”
  12. Wearing a mask under your nose or under your chin. Duh. “Always wear your mask and wear it properly… if you can’t do that, consider shopping online”, suggests the RD article.
  13. Playing the “my rights!” card… “Stores are privately owned and as such, they are allowed to make rules specific to their property, and in most cases, your rights as a citizen do not trump those rules”, says a source. Some customers will say the store is “taking away their right to choose for themselves… (but) you do have a choice… the choice is whether or not to shop at that store, not to force an employee to do what you want.”
  14. Don’t bring small children. “If you’re visiting a retail store, go at a time when someone else can watch your little ones. Children move around, touch things, take their masks off, and do other things that are unsafe – not because they’re naughty but just because they’re children.”
  15. Confronting other customers… “It can be infuriating to watch someone rudely flout the rules while you and others are trying hard to keep everyone safe. It’s become commonplace to see confrontations between customers that get very heated or even physical… You can try discreetly approaching the offender and explain that the rules are for everyone’s safety but this is risky; they may agree or disagree or punch you in the face”. The better move, says the article, is to find the manager or mind your own business.
  16. Holding the door open for others is off-limits. “Handing people a basket, opening a door, helping them put a heavy load on a counter – all of these are lovely gestures but are no longer considered polite these days” says one of the etiquette experts. “Today, these types of gestures are often perceived as uncomfortable and confusing, because they won’t want to offend you by not accepting the gesture and (yet) they don’t want to reciprocate it”

And finally… my own (popUPshops Australia) essential shopping tip (pandemic or not) is don’t forget to be nice. We should all practise basic courtesy, exercise patience, respect the efforts of retailers – and remember to say a genuine thank you. I’ve noticed in recent months that we often seem so focused on doing our own thing, in a hurry to skip back to safety… that the little things like appreciation seem low on our list…

Oh, and make plans to shop at a pop up too, soon !


* source : / etiquette mistakes everyone is making at retail stores



images :  Google Images : Esperance Express, Al Jazeera, Gartner, LS Retail


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