What's with all the lazy shopping carts? It seems that through the years, shopping carts have become progressively more lazy.

Years ago, when a shopping cart was done with its duty, it had to find its way all the way back from your car to the store entrance--either just inside or just outside. But, apparently as the result of an aging population of shopping carts, grocery store designers started scattering "cart corrals" around the parking lot so that the poor carts only had to scoot a few dozen yards before coming to rest. But even that is starting to seem inadequate.

I was at Trader Joe's earlier today and noticed quite a number of carts that could only make it as far as the little curbs that surround the trees that in the parking lot. And at Safeway, where there seem to be cart corrals every 15 parking spots, I still see carts that aren't able to make it even that far.

Modern technology has done so much to our modern food system in the last 20 years (a fair amount of it quite questionable, I'm sure), yet so little has been done to help these carts! Why is that?

Who are the cruel people that insist on keeping these carts in service long after they're able to perform up to very basic expectations?

What is this world coming to?

It's sad, really.

Posted by jzawodn at October 11, 2009 02:58 PM

Reader Comments
# Roger said:

There is no incentive for people to return them. Would you feel embarrassed leaving one wherever it pleases you? Do you give looks of scorn to those not returning theirs?

There is a simple solution - give an incentive for their return. Some low cost chains (outside of the US) make you insert a coin to get a cart and refund it on cart return. This stops the parking lot becoming a cart zoo and also means they don't have to hire anyone to return the carts to their cages.

Methinks a reasonable amount for that is a dollar. All they have to do now is convince Americans that a dollar coin is not a bad thing!

on October 11, 2009 03:43 PM
# Mickey said:

I've long felt that this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Wal-Mart built a system to eliminate bag boys and therefore save money, while still being able to handle a huge pile of items -- the triangular bag corral thing.

Now, someone needs a way to fix shopping carts. I've tried to devise automated systems, but they all involve expensive pulleys, tunnels, etc. There's bound to be a simple solution. Dunno what it is, though.

on October 11, 2009 03:52 PM
# Dave Dash said:

At first I thought this was about online carts...

And before shopping carts there used to be grocers would collect all the groceries you needed so you wouldn't even need a cart ;)

on October 11, 2009 05:42 PM
# James Polley said:

My sister was in a documentary about the fate of these stray trolleys - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWsJL7lI4OE

on October 11, 2009 06:51 PM
# r said:

Ack, a sign I've been working too long in the tech industry: I didn't pick up that you were talking about real-life shopping carts until the 2nd paragraph. :)

on October 11, 2009 07:19 PM
# jr said:

What really saddens me are the feral carts you see blocks or even miles away from their store. Eventually they're either recaptured or hunted down by coyotes (who use every part, I'd add).

on October 11, 2009 08:05 PM
# Warren said:

I love the wording, but really - Americans are lazy people who won't move more than we have to.

We go *inside* to *run* on a belt that doesn't allow us to go anywhere!

There are chains (or individual stores at least) in the US that do use the token/coin route for keeping track of the carts - I used to be able to make a fair amount of money in a few minuets (for a 10 years old) returning carts for folks at BJ's while my parents would load our car. (At a quarter a pop, 5 cartsin 10 minutes is good for a 10 year old.)

I'd prefer to not have the carts, honestly - at least in stores in major cities. Force you to get out of your house more (if you have to shop more frequently, you have to go out more). If you're shopping for a family, bring the kids or your spouse! Each of you can carry one of those hand-held baskets, you spend time together, and, mor importantly, you walk out of the store with only what you need.

The store wouldn't like you not buying as many impulse items, but it'd be a solution.

Or maybe we should go back to what Jamesway and others used to do way back and put poles on the carts so they can't go outside.

on October 11, 2009 08:42 PM
# david said:

I thought this was about online carts too. How long do we have to keep putting up with online carts where we have to enter *ALL* our information every time?

on October 12, 2009 07:18 AM
# Mike Schilli said:

The problem is that it's gotten harder for the supermarkets to find shopping cart pushers.

They're all working in the software industry today, cranking out spaghetti PHP code.

on October 12, 2009 11:32 PM
# Christian Louboutin Sale said:

Ack, a sign I've been working too long in the tech industry: I didn't pick up that you were talking about real-life shopping carts until the 2nd paragraph. :)

on October 13, 2009 08:40 AM
# Tom Russell said:

They're not lazy. They're teenagers.

on October 14, 2009 06:44 AM
# Islami Sohbet said:

Interesting article about the carts, and I saw rellay good comments. I agree the comment about the teenagers :)

on November 1, 2009 03:07 AM
# Darrell C. Greenhouse said:

:-) I actually thought at the beginning of the post that you were going to be talking about "shopping cart" applications! Silly Me! :-) Poor shopping carts! :-(

on November 15, 2009 12:15 AM
# ZXT said:

I thought this article is about online shopping cart like Magento :)

Anyways, Roger is right. Make people deposit a dollar to get a cart and get back that dollar when they return it. Otherwise they lose their dollar.

on November 18, 2009 12:48 PM
# Antique Salvage said:

hahahahah freakn teenagers always making things worse. But honestly the whole dollar idea that is a pretty good one.

on December 1, 2009 02:00 PM
# joelchrist said:

Interesting article, in different way of writing. Thanks for sharing the valuable info.

on December 20, 2009 10:15 PM
# Klaus Egebjerg said:

While shopping we use shopping carts for our comfortable.But it becomes headache when we put so many things while buying and the cart is old.So we have to tell for that to shop owners that put away this type of lazy cart and put new comfortable carts.

on December 30, 2009 01:56 AM
# Manhattan Podiatrist said:

@r: I too was lost. I had to read even the comments to realize that actually the article was about physical shopping carts in shopping malls etc.

on August 4, 2010 07:25 AM
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