The Grocery Self-Checkout Etiquette You Didn't Know You Were Breaking

Self-checkout lanes can be a gift when there are long lines winding around the grocery store to checkout, or if you simply don't want to face a judgmental cashier in your PJs and no makeup. But self-checkout counters are rife with opportunities for grocery shopping faux pas, and you can quickly earn yourself some nasty looks if you don't (pardon the pun) stay in your lane.

According to Southern Living, one of the worst things you can do in the grocery store is show up to the self-checkout counter with a giant cart full of items. This is loosely defined as anything more than 10 items, with items sold by weight being the absolute worst. While this might seem like common sense, there are apparently countless people who block off entire self-checkout sections with their massive carts filled with dozens of items. And it's time for those people to think long and hard about what they've done.

How to use self-checkout

Self-checkout at a grocery store should be used similarly to how you'd use an express lane. Think of it this way: If you can't fit all of your groceries on the little shelf attached to the self-checkout kiosk, then you probably have too many groceries. If you have more than 10 grocery items, get back in line and let a professional take care of your checkout.

Self-checkout kiosks aren't built for large shopping trips. In many stores, a full-size shopping cart would block off the entire self-checkout aisle. They are designed for quick trips using baskets or other small carriers. And unless you've worked as a grocery store cashier, you simply won't be able to match the speed of a staff employee. 

Large shopping orders back up the entire self-checkout section, especially if you're ringing up items like produce that require you to key in specific item codes. And if you mess one small thing up, you'll have to call for help, slowing the whole process even more.

When to use self-checkout

Self-checkout is great for small grocery trips, when you only have a few items to ring up. Avoid produce or items that are sold by weight, and steer clear of things like alcohol and tobacco, which will probably trigger an employee to come and ask to see your ID. You should also be aware that not all self-checkout kiosks will automatically input weekly sales. So if you're buying an item on sale, save yourself some hassle and checkout in the regular line.

Don't take too long scanning your items, or the machine might decide the transaction is null. Familiarize yourself with the kiosk at your local grocery store, and figure out if you're supposed to scan coupon codes or loyalty cards before or after you scan your items.

Make sure that you bag your items immediately after scanning, because many machines will not let you proceed unless your item is moved into the bagging section.