Is It Rude To Not Return Your Grocery Buggy?

In times such as these, there’s only one person to ask.

Grocery Cart In Parking Lot

Getty Images

You might think the question of whether or not to return your grocery buggy to the cart corral is cut and dry, an absolute yes for any supermarket shopper. But some might say that’s just not true. It turns out there’s a contingent of commenters on digital conversation boards pertaining to the topic at hand that assert not returning your cart is actually the best way to go. Is it an unpopular opinion? I think we can all agree on that, but is there really a right or wrong when it comes to returning your buggy? Our apologies to the message boards, but we think so.

While it’s best to bring back your buggy in most cases, it’s always best to hold judgement if we see someone seemingly skipping the grocery store etiquette by leaving their buggy where they please. There are plenty of reasons someone might need to leave their cart in an area that is in fact not the corral. For example, physical limitations, a baby that is in absolute melt-down mode, or even a feeling of general and perhaps sudden unease at your surroundings (always go with your gut). If it comes down to the health or well-being of you or someone in your care, etiquette rules be darned. 

Here's where things get dicey. There are some who argue we shouldn’t return buggies in an effort to make sure there are enough grocery store jobs to go around. The logic is that it takes much more time for an employee to gather carts that are scattered throughout the parking lot than it does to go to the corral and bring those buggies back in. They contend that this increases the number of employees needed throughout the store in a sort of ripple effect. 

Regardless of the intention, this gives me that general feeling of stepping over something on the ground that you know someone else will have to pick up instead. And we all know this to be a major offense where Mama is concerned. 

Beyond being courteous to employees, leaving carts strewn about can result in a not-fun game of bumper cars. Trying to backout of your spot with a cart dangerously nearby or coming out of the grocery store to find a buggy has dinged up the side of your car can really test one’s patience. Deep breaths and calming thoughts, folks. An especially important lesson with the nearing holiday shopping frenzy.

With all of this back and forth, what once seemed so cut and dry, doesn’t appear to be quite as straightforward as we might have thought. In times like these and with etiquette questions of all shapes and sizes that seem to lurk somewhere in the gray, there’s only one question to ask. What would Mama say? We have a feeling her answer would leave no room for follow up: We’ve most assuredly lost our marbles and should probably keep an eye out for them on the way to put up that buggy. Yes, ma’am. 

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles