Supermarket etiquette – shopping dividers on the conveyor belt

This week’s Thanet Gazette was worth every penny for the debate on the letters page (13). Go read the issue in the library if you missed it.

Last week Jane Allen, who shops in Birchington, wrote:

“The person in front never puts the divider up between their shopping and mine. I think this is extremely rude. I was brought up to put the divider up after my shopping on the conveyer belt and ALWAYS do.”
Despite letters to the paper and going out to talk to shoppers in Margate it seems the Thanet Gazette were unable to find anyone else who felt passionately about this matter, in agreement with Ms Allen.
I was not the only person who checked the date to see if it could be an April Fools joke when I first read Ms Allen’s letter. Is she serious, or an agent provocateur? Anyway, being the pedant that I am I spent too much time pondering the issue myself because my gut reaction was that Ms Allen was actually wrong.

The divider of shopping etiquette is not as she stated.

With great joy this week I read the reply from Mark Goddard of Minis Road, Birchington, it is this I would urge you to read in full. He is a man with too much time on his hands to write about the trivia in life; he explains most eloquently why etiquette should suggest that when in a queue one is not responsible for what goes on behind the queuer. The queuer is merely responsible for ensuring appropriate space (barrier) between herself and the person in front.

If there is something trivial to argue about there will be blogs and websites dedicated to the subject, so I did a little search. The www is almost quiet on this matter. I did find a very entertaining blog, however, in which the author explains that the rules of etiquette are one should put the divider in front of your own shopping but the are strict rules governing your response if the person infront places the divider for you:

“My point being that the checkout divider has no significance over and above the thousands of other things happening around you at such a point in your life.
“However, others see the matter differently.
“It turns out that there is such a thing as checkout-divider-etiquette. And, it turns out, that it is a gross infringement of this etiquette should you not put down the plastic baton whenever the chance presents itself to you – … it turns out, at no point are you, the person ahead of them in the queue, obliged to place the plastic dividers down for them, the person behind you in the queue.
“And on top of all of that, if someone puts one of those plastic batons down between their food and yours, and you are behind them, about to put your prospective purchases down on the conveyor belt, it is obligatory to mutter a thank you. Letting out a voluble thank-you isn’t advisable, as this may come across as sarcasm, but mumbling an indecipherable thank-you into your sleeve is the very least you should do.”

There are, however, many pages dedicated to the subject of queuing, jumping it, holding your place with your shopping trolley whilst you go off for forgotten item, paying with small change, not getting your money out ready until it is time to pay, etc…




I think – people who find these things all so worrying might be better doing their shopping on line and/or sticking to small shops. Supermarkets are not going to be pleasant.
I found one angry supporter of the Jane Allen view.

2 Responses to “Supermarket etiquette – shopping dividers on the conveyor belt”

  1. 1 George October 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I can’t believe I read this. The article was good, but does it really matter? If you feel you need the thing then put it up. It is an individual choice.

  2. 2 Burt H. Shulman October 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Hello from across the pond,

    My company has developed a marked belt, to deal with the divider etiquette uncertainty. Customers have a “parking space” for their items. See link above
    Fast, easy, sanitary and green.

    Call Burt for more details
    845 298 4229 USA


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Silent Killer at Home Carbon Monoxide free ebook by D Percy from smashwords

Gas Safety In the Home ebook by D Percy

Gas Safety In the Home ebook by Deborah Percy FREE at

Buy my books

Available at Amazon / Kindle. You can order print copies from this website or Amazon. The Landlord's Guide and Carbon Monoxide are both in print now. Coming soon (in 2014) Do Gas Fires Make you Sick?

Mrs Tara Plumbing’s books at

buy books at

Landlords & Gas Safety book

Landlords & Gas Safety book

Landlord's Guide to Gas Safety available in all ebook stores

All plumbing questions here at the UKPF



Gas Safety Week sept


RSS tara heating

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Tara P Bathroom & Wetroom blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Eastcliff Richard

RSS Thanet Star

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Carbon Monoxide CO blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Garden Geek

  • Hardy Plants for your garden December 30, 2021
    If you are looking for a garden that can maintain a great appearance, with ease, then hardy plants could be for you. Hardy plants are those that can withstand low temperatures and this makes them great for gardens in the UK. With the ever unpredictable British weather, there aren’t even any guarantees when it comes ... Read more The post Hardy Plants for you […]

RSS Bathroom Etiquette blog site

  • Etiquette, Shame and The Huffington Post May 25, 2014
    I was a guest on HuffPost Live this week in a segment purporting to discuss the ins and out of workplace bathroom etiquette. We’ve been here before, but it seems like bathroom etiquette at work is the hot topic that just won’t go away. It was one of those slightly awkward four-way video chats but […]

Mrs TP’s latest tweets….

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-49499672-1', ''); ga('send', 'pageview');


RSS UKIP in Thanet

  • UKIP in Thanet District Council promise to reopen Manston Airport
    or at least they did before the election. It almost sounded too easy. Well, it’s too early to comment on progress but it it not looking so easy.    
  • Thanet District Council tackle Dog Poo
    I’m sure the overwhelming majority of residents will be pleased if UKIP can get on top of the dog poo problem. There is no easy solution as councils around the country have tried to tackle this with the Keep Britain Tidy campaign for at least 30 years (that I know of). One council tried Doggie Loos […]
  • We have a UKIP Thanet District Council but a Conservative MP
    For those who enjoy the maths behind the headlines or have been enjoying #thanetrigged I can share with you this extract from a much larger spreadsheet of results. In the South Thanet parliamentary constituency there are two wards that are part of Dover District Council (by the way Dover are responsible for elections in that […]

%d bloggers like this: