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Supermarket shopping: what gets on your nerves?

supermarket trolley

Long queues, confusing store layouts, ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’… shopping for groceries can really be a chore at times. What irritates you the most about supermarket shopping?

For me, just making sure I’ve bought everything I need and navigating the minefield of special offers means grocery shopping is already taxing enough, even if the shop is relatively deserted. Unfortunately, my local supermarket rarely is…

Most of north London seems to be doing its shopping whenever I go in, and the blocked-up aisles keep you crawling around at a snail’s pace. I’ve now started buying more and more groceries online so that I don’t have to deal with the stress that comes from shopping in a packed-out store. Though you do run the risk of receiving some bizarre substitutions when products are out of stock.

Queues are number one irritation

It seems that what irritates shoppers more than anything is waiting in line for ages. Long queues were named by 35% of shoppers as one of their biggest supermarket bugbears in our survey. One shopper told us:

‘The queues at my local supermarket can sometimes stretch into the aisles, making it difficult to open the freezers.’

While another shopper said:

‘They don’t have a “small basket” check out for a few items, so I go in for a pint of milk and have to queue behind people who have huge trolleys full of food.’

Obstructions in aisles was the next most common irritation, cited by 24% of shoppers. I wonder if that includes the other shoppers in my local store?

There were also a number of people frustrated by not being able to buy what they want – 22% mentioned items on offer being out of stock as a bugbear, while 18% cited shelves that aren’t kept well-stocked.

Have we mentioned your biggest supermarket bugbears? Or is there something else that really gets your goat?


1. Piped muzak

2. Those large pull along plastic baskets on castors are a nightmare for people who have poor eyesight. Surely the normal choice of large trolleys, shallow trolleys and wire baskets are enough for anyone?

3. Prices that go up only to be offered later as “special offer”. Do they think we are all stupid?

4 – 10 Piped muzak.

I get annoyed by special offers, which I choose a lot as I have a family of four because if I don’t check my receipts the supermarkets barcode system does not always pick the offers up so you therefore pay more (usual price) not the special offer cost.
Went to supermarket the other day and was struggling to get around because the supermarket decided that all the aisles needed refilling, so there are boxes everywhere, you are navigating this as well as other shoppers, drove me made and almost to the point of walking out..

I am happy to use self-service check-outs and also contactless payment for a faster check-out but I hate where I get errors which ends up delaying me longer – “unexpected item in bagging area” or flashing red lights is not a good experience. More work is needed to make these solutions a smooth experience.

Jelunga says:
22 March 2015

I agree. Also “nagging Nora” the disembodied voice moaning that you are not quick enough to put the item in your bag on the weighing plate after scanning, and the lack of ability to scan multiples so if you had bought 5 of something you have to scan each individual item rather than tell it 5

I thought it was Sonia – she certainly get’s on ya nerves.

Nothing much gets on my nerves except the awful sound of agonised pop singers screaming their lungs out while I’m trying to think about my purchases. Some supermarkets don’t inflict this on their customers; I just don’t go into the other ones at all.

What annoys me most about supermarkets, particularly the big two, is their carefree attitude to allergen labelling. Recently I purchased a Sainsbury’s red and yellow pepper stir fry. Every one of the listed ingredients was a vegetable, and yet the warning still said it was not suitable for sufferers of peanut, nut sesame, milk, egg, celery, wheat, mustard or soya allergies. That kind of blanket labelling smacks of “covering themselves” and is not very helpful to those of us that do actually suffer from allergies.

The reason for the warning is probably because the stir fry is produced in an environment that handles all those allergy items.

But I agree it is not in the least bit helpful. Unless the product is produced in an unclean environment, there is only likely to be a trace of the allergen which won’t hurt many sufferers and a distinction needs to be made between added ingredients and possible contamination.

A recent change to allergy labelling I don’t like is the statement “Allergens in bold type”. They are very difficult to pick out of a long list of ingredients especially if the print is small or the wording background is coloured.

catherine says:
5 May 2015

My irritations with supermarket shopping are all the above, plus the old people in the queues who don`t seem to understand that they have to pay for their shopping, & fumble around for ages looking for their wallets, then pack their shopping as slowly as they can, ignoring the sighs & tutting of people behind them. There`s also the people who stand chatting to the checkout operator for ages. Screaming kids running around getting in everyone`s way is another irritation. I`d order my groceries online, but I can`t afford the delivery charge.

Jennifer says:
29 May 2015

The lack of plant-based foods. Especially plant-based ready meals for when you are really busy. Always Meat Cheese Meat Cheese etc. When they make meat-free stuff and still put egg or milk in – like veggie sausages lately – why? They put milk and egg (powders usually) in everything too – and usually if they took that one unnecessary ingredient out in most foods then it makes it purchasable. Some stores are getting better but there is a long way to go. Very frustrating.

We are not veggie but my other half is allergic to milk. I totally agree with you on adding milk to everything. Why some products require milk when they were perfectly ok without it before is beyond me.

Waitrose is particularly bad for doing this. They have added milk to most of their ready meals. My other half had an allergic reaction to their Thai Red Curry when they added it and the packaging looked the same but milk was now an ingredient. We used to enjoy their pies but now they all contain milk. Have they made the pastry extra nice with butter so you don’t notice the reduction in meat? I had one of their pies some time ago and the filling was nearly all gravy. So we rarely shop there these days.

mak says:
22 July 2015

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John Smith says:
11 January 2016

Basically find the large supermarkets a rip off, for instance they sell products online not in their stores.
Example crushed garlic online its available but thought when visiting store no where to be seen alternative in store is more expensive and a lot less……