Shopping Mall Etiquette

Parents with son (6-7) in shopping mall
Don't forget your manners when you go to a shopping mall. Michael H/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Malls have become more than a place to shop. They are now the center of social activities, climate-controlled walking hubs, venues for exhibits and shows, and one-stop service centers for medical facilities. With such a large number of people there for so many reasons, it’s time to learn proper etiquette so we don’t infringe on each other’s experience.

Parking Lot

Etiquette starts before you go into the mall.

When looking for a parking spot, be considerate of other drivers. It’s not the end of the world if you have to walk a few extra feet to get to the entrance, so if you see someone waiting for a space closer to the door, keep driving. Never try to zoom in around them.

Mall parking lot rules:

  • Never park in a no-parking zone. That is reserved for emergency vehicles or loading.
  • Do not park in a handicap space unless you have a handicap sticker. If you are not handicapped and think you are entitled to one of these spots, you need to go back to square one and brush up on some basic manners.
  • Do not drive behind and follow people who are walking from the mall to their parking space. They might just be putting their packages in their car so they can do more shopping.
  • If you see someone loading their car with packages, babies, toddlers, strollers, etc., don’t honk. They have enough on their plate without having to worry about your rudeness.
  • If there are cars behind or in front of you, use your turn signal to indicate that you are going to pull into the empty spot.
  • When you find an empty space, slowly pull into it, taking extra care not to get too close to the cars on either side, or you just might find an extra door ding when you return to your vehicle.
  • Don’t try to park a full-sized SUV in a compact car sized spot.
  • Open your car door very carefully so you don’t bang into the car next to you.
  • Always watch for pedestrians and give them the right of way.
  • If someone swings around you and gets the parking spot you had your eye on, let them have it. A parking spot isn’t worth fighting over.
  • Parking in the farthest spot isn’t a bad thing. The exercise will do you good.

In the Mall

When you approach the mall entrance, hold the door for others. This may be the only nice thing anyone has done for them all day. Even if they don’t say, “Thank you,” maintain a friendly stance.

As you walk through the mall, keep a steady pace. Don’t suddenly stop in front of a store, or you might find yourself sprawled out on the floor from someone who ran over you. Never block the entrance of any store. If you want to browse and look at window displays, step off to the side. You’ll still have a nice view, but you won’t prevent others from going into the store.

Avoid talking or texting on your cell phone for long periods of time. Others don’t want to hear private conversations, and it’s easy to forget where you are when you are chatting. Don't get involved in a long text message while walking through the mall.

 Texting requires your attention, and you need to watch where you are going.

Is you are with your romantic interest, it's fine to hold hands as long as you're not blocking other people. However, other public displays of affection, such as making out or groping, are not appropriate in a shopping mall. Save that for when you're in a more private place.

Never shout or scream inside the mall. With walls surrounding you, your voice will echo and disrupt others.

If you run into a friend you haven’t seen in a while, greet him or her and head for a coffee shop to catch up on the latest. Squealing each other’s names might give other mall shoppers a heart attack. Blocking others will disrupt the flow.

In a Store

Step aside. Remember that there are other people shopping in the store, so don’t stand in front of a shelf or rack for a long time as you try to decide whether or not to try it on.

Blocking someone else’s access is frustrating to the other person, and you might find yourself in a confrontational situation if you don’t step aside.

Follow the rules of the fitting room. If the sign states that you can only try on six garments at a time, don’t try to sneak in a dozen. When the store is crowded, a line for the fitting rooms may form. Never cut in line.

Take the personal space of others into consideration. Don’t ever crowd someone who is looking at a rack or shelf.

Don’t take up all the time of the floor clerks. They are there to answer questions and help you find what you are looking for, but they don’t need to hear all the details of why you are there. Others may need their assistance, so when you get the answer you need, than, them and move on.

When it is time to pay for your selection, get in line. If you have an armful of items and someone behind you only has one or two, it is always a nice gesture to allow that person to go ahead of you.

Children

A shopping mall is a great place for moms and dads to take their children, as long as they behave. However, the instant your kids start throwing temper tantrums or running out of control, it’s time to leave. You should never inflict your children’s bad behavior on others. Before you return to the mall, spend some time talking to your kids about proper manners in public.

If you see a parent struggling to gain control of their misbehaving children, show some understanding. Don’t complicate things by interjecting comments. The parent is probably frustrated and may have a snappy comeback. There is no point in putting him or her in this position.