Is it Rude to Wear Headphones While Shopping?

People are wearing headphones and earbuds today more than ever before, with free WiFi in every other business place we stay busy on our smart devices even when communicating with others, including during transactions.

But, what about while shopping? Is it rude to wear headphones while you’re shopping? Read on below and find out the answer!

Is it Rude to Wear Headphones While Shopping?

Wearing headphones while shopping somewhere is about as rude as wearing your hat while doing the same. 

In other words, despite traditional etiquette, wearing headphones while shopping is becoming more and more acceptable each year and less and less rude.

The main time it is rude to keep wearing your headphones while shopping is if someone is trying to talk to you, and when you are checking out and paying for merchandise.

How Rude Is it?


On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, wearing headphones while shopping rates 7. Today, people wear headphones almost anywhere that they go. 

Even more, people keep their headphones on while getting their nails done, getting their hair cut, and during other activities that traditionally involved interpersonal conversation with the service provider.

The primary reason why wearing headphones while shopping rates 7 out of 10 on our rude scale is that while it’s not illegal to keep your headgear on while shopping, traditional etiquette demands that you take it off while in earshot of shop keepers and/or service providers like nail techs or waitresses.

Why is it Rude?

Regardless of the fact that people tend to wear their headphones no matter what they are doing these days (even while crossing the road in some cases), it is still rude under some circumstances.

For example, if you are shopping in a small store (not a big brand serve-yourself type store like Walmart) you should take your headphones off or your earbuds out so you can hear the storekeeper when they speak to you.

When you go into a privately owned shop, or a small store space, without taking your headphones off, it is like walking into the office, or into someone’s home, and leaving your headgear on… it’s rude and uncalled for.

Common Questions

Is it legal to wear headphones in public?

There are no laws that forbid you from wearing your headphones in public, generally speaking.

However, depending on where you live, there may be state-wide or county-level ordinances that restrict wearing headphones while driving or walking across the street.

Is it rude to wear earbuds on the street?

Depending on where you are, and what you are doing, as well as how many individuals you are interacting with, wearing earbuds on the street may or may not be rude.

The fact of the matter is, if you aren’t ignoring anyone, there’s nothing rude about wearing earbuds on the street.

Is wearing headphones unprofessional?

Wearing headphones is considered unprofessional in certain industries and work sectors, in others it’s perfectly acceptable.

For example, many warehouse workers wear headphones for the majority of their 8 to 12-hour shifts picking or packing orders for customers.

On the other hand, business managers, or sales personnel are extremely unprofessional if they wear headphones on the job.