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Shopping cart

Shopping cart

A shopping cart (also called a buggy or a trolley in British English; sometimes referred to as a carriage or shopping carriage in the U.S. region of New England; also known as a bascart in some regions of the U.S.) is a cart supplied by a shop, especially a supermarket, for use by customers inside the shop for transport of merchandise to the check-out counter, and, after paying, often also to the car on the parking lot. Often, customers are allowed to leave the carts in the car park, and store personnel return the carts to the shop.


Most shopping carts are made of metal or plastic and designed to nest within each other in a line to facilitate moving many at one time, and to save on storage space. The carts can come in many sizes, with larger ones able to carry a child. There are also specialized carts designed for two children, and electric mobility scooters with baskets designed for disabled customers. Some stores even have novelty carts that look like a car or van with a large boot (called a "trunk" in the U.S. and Canada) where a child can sit in the seat while shopping. Such "Car-Carts", as some people call them in the cart business, are less moveable and unable to stack and compile with other carts.

Shopping Cart of Different Types

Shopping carts are fitted with four caster wheels, which can point in any direction to allow easy maneuvering. However, when any one of the wheels jams, the cart becomes extremely difficult to handle. Note that some carts only have swivel castor wheels on the front, while the rear ones are locked. This presumably improves the steering life of the cart, at the expense of maneuverability.

Alternative to the shopping cart is a small handheld shopping basket. A customer can often choose between a cart and a basket, and may prefer a basket if the amount of merchandise is small. Small shops, where carts would be impractical, often supply only baskets.

Often there is the problem of theft of shopping carts by pedestrian customers who use them to carry groceries all the way home. Shopping carts cost on average between $75 and $100 apiece in the United States.[citation needed] One solution is to set up an electric perimeter around the parking lot.


Sometimes the customer has to pay a small deposit by inserting a coin, which is returned if and when the customer returns the cart to a designated cart parking point. Some retailers sell "trolley tokens" as an alternative to coins, often for charity. The mechanism can often be unlocked by inserting a key into the slot to open the lock.

Cart filled with rubbish

This is also done for profit with luggage carts at many airports, where companies like Smarte Carte charge two or more dollars (U.S.) (or equivalent) for rental, and return a small token reward of a quarter (25 ¢) for returning carts to the other end of any dispenser machine.

Electronic theft prevention

Theft deterrent systems are becoming popular in many shopping centers. The system works by locking one of the wheels when the cart is rolled out of the "green zone" into the "red zone." Each shopping cart is fitted with an electronic locking wheel, or 'boot'. The boot locks when it receives a low power FM frequency from the transmission line. A transmitter with a thin wire is placed around the radius of the parking lot. The wire is placed under the cement or asphalt only a few inches. This wire has an effective broadcast range of within a few feet both vertically and horizontally. If the carts wheel does lock, a remote is used that broadcasts a certain frequency to unlock the wheel. Usually a yellow line is placed several feet in front of the broadcast range to warn customers that their cart will abruptly stop if they roll their cart over the yellow line. Minor injuries have occurred to people's wrists and arms when the cart abruptly stops[citation needed]. If two nearby stores are both using this type of anti-theft system, it is possible to have conflicts.

Shopping cart under the sea

Retailers report more than 800 million dollars (U.S.) of missing carts in the U.S. alone each year. Once taken from the store, carts frequently end up in hedges or streams[citation needed]. They are often also used by urban homeless people to carry their belongings.


The first shopping cart was introduced on June 4, 1937, the invention of Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Piggly-Wiggly supermarket chain in Oklahoma City. With the assistance of Fred Young, a mechanic, Goldman constructed the first shopping cart, basing his design on that of a wooden folding chair. They built it with a metal frame and added wheels and wire baskets, and advertised the invention as part of a new “No Basket Carrying Plan.”

A Japanese shopping cart in apm, Hong Kong

The invention did not catch on immediately. Men found them effeminate; women found them suggestive of a baby carriage. "I've pushed my last baby buggy," offended women informed him. After hiring several male and female models to push his new invention around his store and demonstrate their utility, as well as greeters to explain their use, shopping carts became extremely popular and Goldman became a multimillionaire. Goldman continued to make modifications to his original design, and the basket size of the shopping cart increased as stores realized that their customers purchased more as its size increased. Today, most big-box stores and supermarkets have shopping carts for the convenience of the shoppers.

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