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#1
Old 04-17-2013, 07:22 AM
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No more hand held baskets at Walmart. Why?

The walmarts in my area have quit carrying hand held shopping baskets. At first they claimed, "Sorry they've all been stolen"...But a new store just opened and they've never had them and aren't going to get them. Would anyone have a guess as to why they don't want customers using them anymore? It's the first thing I look for when I walk in the store and it just sets the tone for the frustrating shopping experience to follow. (Now I go to a checkout carousel and grab a bag or two to go shop with...yes they look at me funny)!
#2
Old 04-17-2013, 07:28 AM
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Heh. The WalMart near me offers use of wheeled carts for accumulating ones purchases. They don't have those?
#3
Old 04-17-2013, 07:29 AM
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I don't know specifically (and I feel bad for being the first responder since I'm not sure), but I would imagine it has something to do with either modification of shopping behavior (you're less likely to impulse purchase if you have to carry it around but might not mind if it goes in a cart) and workforce reduction (you already have people to get the carts, but can lay off the people that would deal with the baskets).
#4
Old 04-17-2013, 07:36 AM
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I don't want to sound like some paranoid conspiracy type but Walmart being Walmart, everything
they do is planned and studied about the shopping experience, and you know this has to be a decision from the corporate office. But when you only need a few things, AND the baskets have been part of shopping there since the beginning...it seems odd to me they would decide it's time everyone shop with a cart.
#5
Old 04-17-2013, 07:47 AM
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I've noticed the normal sized blue baskets becoming fewer and fewer ... the other day I found a beige basket that was about 1/4 that size and tried to use it. Ended up overfilling it, dropping some single serving apple sauce "tins", making a mess........ and not feeling the least bit guilty. That'll teach 'em !!
#6
Old 04-17-2013, 07:48 AM
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My guess is that Wal-Mart figures it has acquired enough market share that it can start cutting costs by making the shopping experience less convenient.
#7
Old 04-17-2013, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowjacketcoder View Post
I don't know specifically (and I feel bad for being the first responder since I'm not sure), but I would imagine it has something to do with either modification of shopping behavior (you're less likely to impulse purchase if you have to carry it around but might not mind if it goes in a cart)
This right here. People buy more if they're using a cart versus a hand basket.
#8
Old 04-17-2013, 07:52 AM
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It encourages people to buy more - a similar tactic is to offer the shoppers something heavy or bulky right at the entrance to the store - so for example, siting the produce section there not only looks nice, but if you then reduce the potatoes to an irresistible price, people will go back and get a cart - and once they get a cart, they're more likely to fill it.
#9
Old 04-17-2013, 07:57 AM
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Psychology is certainly believable but I do find it logical that people steal them. The Walmart near me has locks on the cart wheels to prevent them from being stolen, so I find it believable people would steal hand baskets too, and you can't put a lock on those.
#10
Old 04-17-2013, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
Psychology is certainly believable but I do find it logical that people steal them. The Walmart near me has locks on the cart wheels to prevent them from being stolen, so I find it believable people would steal hand baskets too, and you can't put a lock on those.

You can put the electronic security tag on a basket though.
#11
Old 04-17-2013, 08:07 AM
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My local WalMart has a variable number of hand baskets. At a time when there were few, I asked the "greeter" why, and was told that they are regularly stolen, especially at the beginning of a school term (this area has a large junior college). He said they routinely order more, but have trouble keeping up.
#12
Old 04-17-2013, 08:08 AM
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I doubt it's a theft issue; our local Wal-Marts quit having the handbaskets a couple of years ago, yet all the other grocery stores, big box stores like Home Depot, and other discount stores like Target all retained them.

My suspicion is that they think kind of how I do; if I'm going in for one or two specific items and don't want to get a lot of impulse buy stuff, I don't get a cart at all. If I'm getting a few things but plan on browsing, I'll get a handbasket. If I get a cart, then I'm not only able to get larger things, but pack it full of more $1-$5 items than I'd otherwise be able to cram into a handbasket comfortably.

I do notice that I spend more at Wal-Mart without the handbaskets than I do at Target with them, and I think it's definitely because of the ability to just toss crap into the basket and not have to lug it around the store.
#13
Old 04-17-2013, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
The walmarts in my area have quit carrying hand held shopping baskets. At first they claimed, "Sorry they've all been stolen"...But a new store just opened and they've never had them and aren't going to get them. Would anyone have a guess as to why they don't want customers using them anymore?
If it's really true that all the baskets have been stolen from all the other Walmarts in the area, it seems logical that they wouldn't buy any for the new store because they figure they'd all get stolen right away anyway.

The theory that "forcing" people to use wheeled carts encourages them to buy more sounds plausible, but it can backfire: if I'm just grabbing a couple of things, I'll just carry them, and having a basket enables me to buy more than I can comfortably hold in my hands.


Quote:
It's the first thing I look for when I walk in the store and it just sets the tone for the frustrating shopping experience to follow. (Now I go to a checkout carousel and grab a bag or two to go shop with...yes they look at me funny)!
I'm not surprised they look at you funny. Having your items in a bag makes it look like they've already been paid for. Shopping that way makes it looks like you're planning to walk out without paying, or at least makes it harder to see whether or not you're doing so.
#14
Old 04-17-2013, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
The theory that "forcing" people to use wheeled carts encourages them to buy more sounds plausible, but it can backfire: if I'm just grabbing a couple of things, I'll just carry them, and having a basket enables me to buy more than I can comfortably hold in my hands.
I would think the gain of people filling their shopping carts to the brim far outweighs the loss of people who would've otherwise filled their handbaskets to the brim.

Last edited by Agent Foxtrot; 04-17-2013 at 08:21 AM.
#15
Old 04-17-2013, 08:31 AM
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When asked, two of the stores have said the baskets have all been stolen. I'm not buying this as they have those receipt checker clerks at the exit checking your purchase. What? They just let the baskets go out the door? Doubtful. The store that just opened was honest at least and flat out said,
"no baskets and it doesn't look like we'll be getting them either"
#16
Old 04-17-2013, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
I don't want to sound like some paranoid conspiracy type but Walmart being Walmart, everything
they do is planned and studied about the shopping experience, and you know this has to be a decision from the corporate office. But when you only need a few things, AND the baskets have been part of shopping there since the beginning...it seems odd to me they would decide it's time everyone shop with a cart.
That's exactly right.

And no, you're not paranoid - companies like Walmart store millions of records of customer behaviour in big data warehouses, analyze trends and define scenarios under which ideas are being discussed on how to increase 5, 10 or even 20% same point sales/revenue period over period.

This move seems to improve two-fold – 1st you don’t have to worry about hand-held baskets so expenses will be reduced and 2nd having a cart is an inducement (like a déjà vu effect) that should increase the amount of stuff you planned to buy.
#17
Old 04-17-2013, 08:36 AM
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Like I said earlier, now I just take a couple of bags from a checkout carousel and go shopping. I have got some curious looks but so far no one has said anything about it. If they do I'll say, "couldn't find any handbaskets...looks like you need to order more"since their excuse seems to be the baskets are being stolen.
#18
Old 04-17-2013, 08:40 AM
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From this article (that does not list their sources):
Quote:
Walter Deubner ran a grocery store in St. Paul, Minn., and was looking for a way to give business a boost. He noticed that customers' purchases were limited by what they could conveniently carry home. It took him four years to develop the right solution: A paper bag with cord running through it for strength. Within three years, he was selling over a million shopping bags a year.

Hand-held baskets only held so much Many stores used wicker baskets, which were weak and too small to carry much, until wire baskets were introduced. The down sides? The baskets got heavy when loaded up. And customers stopped shopping when the baskets were full.

The cart starts to take shape

The first shopping cart was introduced in 1937, the invention of Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Piggly-Wiggly supermarket chain. Goldman advertised it with a poster that featured a tired-looking woman clutching a loaded market basket. Imagine, it read, "wending your way through a spacious food market without having to carry a cumbersome shopping basket . . ." Just in time for the baby boom, the child seat was created in 1947. A plastic cover for the leg holes was created for childless shoppers in 1952. 1954 brought color-coordinated cart handles with personalized store names.
#19
Old 04-17-2013, 08:44 AM
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Walmart said to hell with them, where evidently there's a use.
#20
Old 04-17-2013, 08:49 AM
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I'd question the psychological theory. I think many shoppers go into WalMart with the intent of buying "just one thing" so they're not going to take a wheeled cart. If you had a handbasket, it would be easy to add a few extra unplanned items. Not having one makes it more convenient to stick to your original plan.

My local WalMart still has handbaskets. I don't know if that's a sign that we're an unusually honest town. Perhaps WalMart is just testing the idea to see if removing handbaskets increases or decreases sales.
#21
Old 04-17-2013, 08:52 AM
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I can't be the only person who shops before work or during lunch. I'm usually getting something to eat, but also need razors, or a paint brush...something on the other side of the store. It makes no sense to drive a big cart all around and takes twice as long. I can run the quarter mile it takes to get my things much better with a hand held basket.
#22
Old 04-17-2013, 09:14 AM
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The Walmart near us only sometimes has hand baskets.. We always look for them, but if there are any at all there's only 1. (Normally there are none)

I find it extraordinarily annoying. It's already like trying to drive in Chicago at rush hour in there and it doesn't help when everyone has a humungous cart with nothing but a single box of tissues in it blocking all of the rows.
#23
Old 04-17-2013, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'd question the psychological theory. I think many shoppers go into WalMart with the intent of buying "just one thing" so they're not going to take a wheeled cart.


Last night we went into a Wal-Mart for a few things and noticed that there weren’t any hand baskets. My wife, who carries a purse, grabbed a cart so she could put her purse in it even though we could have probably done without.

Maybe strongly encouraging someone to set down their burden, be it a purse, child, or diaper bag will make them more likely to relax and shop an extra few minutes.
#24
Old 04-17-2013, 09:28 AM
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I work in retail, so I can say with confidence the goal is to increase what they call "basket size" - i.e. the amount of stuff you purchase. If you run a store where people often come in for one or two things (like for example a Walgreens), you offer them a basket and hopefully they'll now buy three or four items that they can now carry easily. If they usually buy only what will fit in the basket, make them use a shopping cart that will hold more.

There's also the added advantage of not having to acquire, maintain, store, and display the baskets (which admittedly might be offset by the need for more carts).
#25
Old 04-17-2013, 09:46 AM
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I would think Walmart would not want to piss me off first thing as I walk in the store. Like other's have said, ALL other stores have them...we're conditioned to expect them when we walk in the store. But no, not Walmart, where we're now being condtioned to push a wheeled cart around so we can hopefully purchase more than we need. They should just put up a sign as you walk in: "No handbaskets available--use your arms to carry things, or a shopping cart so you'll buy more!"
#26
Old 04-17-2013, 10:21 AM
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I am cynical enough to believe that it is to encourage buying more. In one way it makes sense. But it sounds like a case of confusing correlation with cause and effect. A study that says people with wheeled carts buy more is like a study that concludes that buying bigger shoes causes your feet to grow more.
#27
Old 04-17-2013, 10:23 AM
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And since hand held baskets are part of the "big box" shopping experience...I wonder if this works for Walmart, if they see an increase in purchases or per shopper purchase increase (however they measure it)...will all the box retailers do away with their hand held baskets. Walmart is the retail leader/trendsetter so I'm thinking hand baskets might be going the way of the buggy whip.
#28
Old 04-17-2013, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CandidGamera View Post
My guess is that Wal-Mart figures it has acquired enough market share that it can start cutting costs by making the shopping experience less convenient.
?

Less convenient? They are already at max level for "less convenient." The only way to be come less convenient is for them to wait until I have made my purchases and then actually whack me in the balls with a baseball bat on the way out the door and then take the stuff I bought from me. At no time in the last 20 years has going to Wal-Mart been any less painful than a sriracha enema.

Why did they get rid of hand baskets? You are more likely to put more stuff in a big cart. Plus they are Wally world so f you.
#29
Old 04-17-2013, 10:34 AM
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Wait, people steal those hand-held baskets? Why? I mean, I'm perfectly willing to buy one if it would be useful around the house but I can't imagine what you'd use them for.
#30
Old 04-17-2013, 11:01 AM
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Carry stuff around the house? Carry your groceries home? People that don't have cars will often steal carts and either wheel them home or to the bus stop, so I can see stealing a handbasket if you only have a few items.
#31
Old 04-17-2013, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I am cynical enough to believe that it is to encourage buying more. In one way it makes sense. But it sounds like a case of confusing correlation with cause and effect. A study that says people with wheeled carts buy more is like a study that concludes that buying bigger shoes causes your feet to grow more.
They have access to a lot of data that you and I do not. I'd imagine they piloted removing handbaskets at a few stores and compared the average shopper's purchase size in relation to other stores at a similar time last year, and looked to see if it generally went up or went down. If it went down, then they wouldn't have removed them.

Since they have done that, I can only assume that overall, it went up. I'm certain that, yes, some shoppers bought less because they ended up just carrying the one item they came for and didn't get any impulse items. But they were probably outweighed by those that grabbed a cart and filled it.
#32
Old 04-17-2013, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSexton View Post
They have access to a lot of data that you and I do not. I'd imagine they piloted removing handbaskets at a few stores and compared the average shopper's purchase size in relation to other stores at a similar time last year, and looked to see if it generally went up or went down. If it went down, then they wouldn't have removed them.

Since they have done that, I can only assume that overall, it went up. I'm certain that, yes, some shoppers bought less because they ended up just carrying the one item they came for and didn't get any impulse items. But they were probably outweighed by those that grabbed a cart and filled it.
It's a common fallacy to believe that if a big corporation does something, it must be reasonable. Even if nobody can figure out any good reason for what they're doing.

Why is it impossible to believe that corporations sometimes just make dumb decisions?
#33
Old 04-17-2013, 11:25 AM
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I don't think it would take a lot of customer tracking to figure the economics of no baskets. The experiment is easy. Take two stores in Des Moines, IA, for instance, both having carts and baskets, compare the average number of items bought and average customer total over one week. Remove the baskets and do the same calculations the next week. Do baskets affect (adversely) the number or value of purchases? Yes, it would be informative to have a more complex overview about what is purchased, but it's not exactly rocket science. I have an aunt who has worked in the worker's insurance department at Walmart central for more than 40 years- and the bottom line is always value at Walmart and they wouldn't do a complicated analysis if there was a simpler and cheaper way to do it. That is a top to bottom instituted policy.

Quote:
As per about.com:
The Mission Statement and Purpose of Wal-Mart (WMT)

Wal-Mart's advertised mission statement and its advertising slogan are the same:

"We save people money so they can live better."

In addition to this mission statement, the company looks to its founder, Sam Walton for a company "purpose":

“If we work together, we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone…we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.”
#34
Old 04-17-2013, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
Carry stuff around the house? Carry your groceries home? People that don't have cars will often steal carts and either wheel them home or to the bus stop, so I can see stealing a handbasket if you only have a few items.
I think it would be MUCH easier to just carry your few items in a bag. The stealing excuse is BS IMHO. Sure, people leave the store with wheeled carts, but hand baskets? Never seen that.
#35
Old 04-17-2013, 12:03 PM
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Next thing you know they'll have have "double-wide" shopping carts.
#36
Old 04-17-2013, 12:11 PM
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If you want to be a smartass about it, go to the container section of walmart, get a basket with handles or small trashcan, shop with it, take it to checkout, and tell the cashier you've decided you don't want the basket. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

If you don't like being "forced" to use a cart, you can always bring your own shopping basket or bag with you. I keep a few reusable cloth shopping bags in my car, so I'd just do that. But generally speaking, I only go shopping at a big-box store when I need a shitload of stuff, so I'd be getting the cart anyway. If I just need to pick up a couple things on my way home, I go to a drug store--they're more compact (if a little more expensive), I can park right outside the door, and checkout is much faster.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 04-17-2013 at 12:12 PM.
#37
Old 04-17-2013, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
I can't be the only person who shops before work or during lunch. I'm usually getting something to eat, but also need razors, or a paint brush...something on the other side of the store. It makes no sense to drive a big cart all around and takes twice as long. I can run the quarter mile it takes to get my things much better with a hand held basket.
Sure it does, if you're more likely to throw extra stuff in the cart, versus not getting those items because you'd have to carry them.
#38
Old 04-17-2013, 01:08 PM
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As long as their attitude is "Sorry, we're out of hand baskets" I'll keep doing what I'm doing, which is grab some of their shopping bags to go shopping.
At some point though, they're going to have to admit, "sorry we want you to shop with a shopping cart only, and we will never have those hand baskets back".
#39
Old 04-17-2013, 05:46 PM
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I prefer the handheld baskets because I have never been in a Walmart that is designed to allow the navigation of shopping carts. So I only go there when I can fit a few items in a basket. It is impossible to push a cart around the place because of all the people using scooters who wouldn't need scooters if they didn't use scooters, the one front wheel that never works right, and the people who shop at least 4 wide and 4 deep in groups and clog up the aisles, among other things.

Mine stopped having baskets also. I usually make a basket out of a convenient item or borrow a Rubbermaid container or something and leave it at the checkout.
#40
Old 04-17-2013, 07:29 PM
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I worked at a Wal-Mart in Baltimore for about a year two years ago. People would routinely steal them. I've seen security tapes of it occurring multiple times; management showed us this in order to drive home how we should be on the look out for it. Customers would come to the speedy checkout, shove their bags into the basket, walk out to their car and put the basket into their car. There was one time we literally ordered a hundred new baskets and they were gone within two weeks.

So...I don't know how much 'shopping behavior' actually factors into it.

It was actually pretty hilarious when people would come in bitching about the lack of baskets, as if it's their god given right to have a shopping basket. In fact, I could go on a whole tirade about the demographic of people who shop at Wal-Mart, but I'll save that for another thread. I don't want to derail this thread with a rant about people who use the wrong coupons and then bitch at the cashier for not accepting them.

Last edited by chinchalinchin; 04-17-2013 at 07:32 PM.
#41
Old 04-17-2013, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
As long as their attitude is "Sorry, we're out of hand baskets"
They call them "hand-baskets"? Cause that sounds awkward.
#42
Old 04-17-2013, 08:28 PM
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Walmart have people who stand near the exits, checking out your purchase, even occasionally asking to see your receipt and writing a check on it in pen. The purpose of this is to make sure no one is stealing, or forgetting to pay for stuff on the bottom of their shopping cart. At some Walmarts, the customers form a cue at the exit as their stuff is checked.
Now we're being told the blue hand baskets, which (unlike the shopping carts) should never leave the store and could even have a security tag on them, routinely get stolen.
Question: what the hell are these "door checkers" checking for if they can't spot a basket?
#43
Old 04-17-2013, 08:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
Walmart have people who stand near the exits, checking out your purchase, even occasionally asking to see your receipt and writing a check on it in pen. The purpose of this is to make sure no one is stealing, or forgetting to pay for stuff on the bottom of their shopping cart. At some Walmarts, the customers form a cue at the exit as their stuff is checked.
...
Question: what the hell are these "door checkers" checking for if they can't spot a basket?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
...I'm not buying this as they have those receipt checker clerks at the exit checking your purchase....What? They just let the baskets go out the door? Doubtful.
WalMart has receipt checkers at the exit where you live? I've been in a lot of WalMarts and never seen them. Sam's Club, always, but not WalMart.

That they are willing to spend money on workers checking people for stolen items as they leave, combined with the employees saying the baskets get stolen, seems to indicate your local WalMart has a lot of theft, including baskets.

Interestingly, the "poor WalMart" near my office doesn't have baskets, but the "rich WalMart" over by the Costco does.
#44
Old 04-17-2013, 09:05 PM
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If the trend is toward bigger baskets, why are grocery carts getting smaller? My grocery store recently went 1/2 traditional carts, 1/2 small carts: they are about half the size of a full cart and have no place to put a kid.
#45
Old 04-17-2013, 11:12 PM
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How much can these baskets cost anyway? This is Walmart, who sells better quality, more intricate pieces of extruded plastic for about four dollars. Say they keep a stock of 100 and 5 go missing each day. what's that like 20 bucks a day. It should be a non issue keeping these in stock..this is Walmart: Discount Purveyor Of Extruded Plastic.
I wonder, too, if they're requiring us to use shopping carts because they don't like people dashing in, grabbing a hand basket and walking briskly to gather their purchases. They might feel they have better control if everyone has to get a shopping cart and must lumber up and down almost in a cue.
I'm not sure why they wouldn't want to enable getting in and out, but it seems they want to put an end to it.
#46
Old 04-17-2013, 11:26 PM
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This is a huge problem for some friends of mine that use wheelchairs. They always carry a basket in their lap and secure it to the chair with a bungee cord. A lot of stuff can be packed into those hand baskets.

Pushing a cart from a wheelchair really isn't an option. My friends ask me to take them to Target now. They can only carry three or four items in their lap at Walmart. It's not worth the trip. Sams Club is the same problem. No hand baskets. I hope Target keeps their hand baskets.

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-17-2013 at 11:27 PM.
#47
Old 04-18-2013, 02:52 AM
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Add to this:
The WalMart in Citrus Heights CA (likes to think it's more upscale than it is) no longer offers the white bags for your purchases. Or any Free bags. It is now BYO or buy the upscale blue woven plastic (has to be seen to be believed) at $2-3/ea.

I moved out of the area just when the did this (2009). I was back in the area and decided to see if they were still doing it. Yep. Asked the young woman at the door about free bags, and her response was "we've never had those". Yo, twit: the duration of your employment is not the same as the operation of that store. Try "never in my experience!".
#48
Old 04-18-2013, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock party View Post
How much can these baskets cost anyway? This is Walmart, who sells better quality, more intricate pieces of extruded plastic for about four dollars. Say they keep a stock of 100 and 5 go missing each day. what's that like 20 bucks a day. It should be a non issue keeping these in stock..this is Walmart: Discount Purveyor Of Extruded Plastic.
Yeah, but remember they're making a profit selling Discount Extruded Plastic for $4 whereas the shopping baskets the company itself has to pay for are walking out the door for free.

I searched for "shopping baskets wholesale" and according to this site they appear to run anywhere from US $2-$5 a pop. I'm sure Wally World can get them cheaper because of quantity so we'll use the low end of the spectrum. So losing 5 baskets a day hits them for $10, which isn't a big deal, but the problem is they're down to 95 baskets... then 90... then within a couple weeks they ain't got no stinkin' baskets.

Combine that with every store in the area losing a similar quantity, so the manager has to go through corporate to order more baskets, which the company has to spend money on, just to have the fresh batch stolen again within a few weeks.

I can see why they'd say "fuck it, just quit supplying the baskets."

Last edited by Azeotrope; 04-18-2013 at 08:24 AM. Reason: words mean things
#49
Old 04-18-2013, 08:33 AM
Arms of Steel, Leg of Jello
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Riding my handcycle
Posts: 34,816
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post

Pushing a cart from a wheelchair really isn't an option. My friends ask me to take them to Target now. They can only carry three or four items in their lap at Walmart. It's not worth the trip. Sams Club is the same problem. No hand baskets. I hope Target keeps their hand baskets.
Actually, it can be done but it requires a fairly strong wrist/grip on one arm and the other arm does all the pushing.
#50
Old 04-18-2013, 08:35 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Wait, people steal those hand-held baskets? Why? I mean, I'm perfectly willing to buy one if it would be useful around the house but I can't imagine what you'd use them for.
I've heard they're this generation's equivalent to the milk crate. Since you can get slapped with a fine for stealing milk crates now they've switched to shopping baskets because they're usually right near the door and store employees aren't going to go chasing after a basket thief if they see it happen.
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