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Skip the Shopping Cart

January 12th, 2020 at 03:30 pm

I know I have shared in the past that I don't use the shopping carts at Target. Nor the baskets, most the time. If I can't hold it in my hands I don't need it. (Unless it's a very specific trip for more items or something larger). I have sometimes looked ridiculous and been asked if I need a basket, but it was worth not being tempted to spend more money.

So I felt, "Exactly!" when I saw this article yesterday:

Text is https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/shopping-cart-size/ and Link is
https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/shopping-cart-size/


There's a reason you can't leave Target without spending more than you planned—blame the shopping cart.

One of the very first shopping carts, invented in 1937, was simply a metal frame that held two wire shopping baskets. Eventually the design evolved to one basket, and the nesting capability was added for easy storage. The first shopping cart baby seats were added in the 1950s. For the next several decades, the shopping cart design remained the same—except when it came to size. The average shopping cart has almost tripled in size since 1975. From a stack of two hand baskets to the gigantic carts we see today, why the change?

Bigger Carts Lead to More Spending
There are a couple of theories out there as to why shopping carts have gotten bigger and bigger: wider shopping aisles and larger shopping budgets are leading people to buy more goods and groceries. But there could be a more subliminal reason: to trick the consumer into spending more. Marketing consultant Martin Lindstrom told Today that when the shopping cart was doubled in size in an experiment, shoppers would buy 40% more merchandise.


I had figured out that a shopping cart makes it way too easy to buy crap that you don't need. I had never really thought about how they make the carts bigger so that you can add more. It's kind of fascinating how much that works psychologically.

Skip the shopping cart next time. It really works.

7 Responses to “Skip the Shopping Cart”

  1. disneysteve Says:

    I don't doubt that, but also stores are far bigger and carry a far greater variety of merchandise than they used to. Simply put, there are more things you can buy in a store today than in a store in 1950. Target is a perfect example. It sells clothing for all ages, baby supplies, electronics, books, toys, greeting cards, stationary, school supplies, sporting goods, auto care, home maintenance, and also has a full grocery store, among other things. Back in the 50s or 60s, you needed to go to 5 or 6 different stores or more to get all of that stuff. So sure, you may be buying a lot more at one time, but you're probably doing a lot more one-stop shopping.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Probably true. And honestly unless I'm getting groceries (regardless of store) I don't usually get a cart. I often look around when we buy groceries and notice our cart (even when girls were at home) was less full than others. We buy fresh, less processed food and stick to our list based on needs and a meal plan.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    I'd say you are exactly right. Our Kroger has the little carts as well as the big ones and unless we are buying water (DH takes a bottle when he walks), we use the smaller carts. More of a challenge to buy lots of stuff.

    I do the same in Target...don't get a cart because I don't want to be tempted.

  4. SavingBucks Says:

    I usually try to walk to my local Target. and bring two bags with me. The amount I buy from there has decreased significantly.

  5. Lucky Robin Says:

    Maybe that is true for people who don't have the self-discipline to say no to their unplanned for wants. I write a list and I stick to it. I will get a big cart even if I could fit everything in a small one, because leaning on the cart helps me walk. I am not tempted to fill it. I also shop with cash so can't just pay for whatever I want with credit. Credit can lead to overspending at the store. If it is not on the list it doesn't go in the cart unless it is a need I forgot about needing (like cream of tartar for a recipe) and that is rare. I really think planning and lists are key. And not shopping when you are hungry, exhausted, or upset about something. This is as true for regular items as for food. Will power goes away when we are hungry, exhausted, or upset.

  6. CB in the City Says:

    I don't worry about the size of the cart I use. My real problem comes when I have to carry my groceries upstairs, so I am circumspect in what I buy. It has to fit in two reusable bags.

  7. Debt-free by Thir-ty Says:

    We literally have a Walmart 2 minutes from our house, so I'll often stop by for a few things. I noticed a month or so ago that the small blue baskets had disappeared. It's super inconvenient because I don't have a big enough list to want a full cart, but it's often just enough to be too much to carry. I keep forgetting, but when Toys R Us went out of business, I'd bought 4 of their hand baskets. I need to keep one in the car and just carry it in with me.

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