Abandoned shopping carts cost taxpayers thousands of dollars – CNN

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Santa Fe, New Mexico, paid a local contractor $47,000 to bring together approximately 3,000 shopping carts across the city in 2021 and 2022.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, spent $78,468 collection cart From May 2020 to October 2022.

Shopping carts continue to pull away from stores, draining taxpayer resources and frustrating and frustrating local officials and retailers.

Abandoned shopping carts are wreaking havoc on neighborhoods as wayward carts block intersections, sidewalks and bus stops. They occupy handicap spots in parking lots and end up in streams, ditches and parks. And they clog the city’s drainage and waste systems, cause an accident.

There are no national data on shopping cart losses, but shopping cart experts say U.S. retailers lose an estimated tens of millions of dollars each year replacing lost or damaged carts. . They pay sellers to rescue lost carts and pay local government fines for violating shopping cart laws. And if you don’t have enough carts for your customers during peak shopping hours, you’ll miss out on sales.

Last year, Walmart paid $23,000 in fines related to an abandoned shopping cart in the small town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, said Sean McDonald, a member of the town’s task force.

For two years, Dartmouth officials corralled more than 100 Walmart carts scattered throughout the city and stored them in one of the city’s storage facilities. When Walmart applied for new building permits, McDonald said Walmart was told it would have to pay the town thousands of dollars in storage fees every day.

“It’s a safety issue with these carts going down the hill. Something was left on the road while driving,” he said. “I got to the point where I was pissed off.”

more municipality Across the country, laws are being proposed to crack down on stray carts. They impose fines and collection service fees on retailers for abandoned carts and require stores to lock carts or put in place a system to contain them. fines anyone who removes a cart from

The city council of Ogden, Utah, this month approved an ordinance to fine anyone who owns or owns a store cart. , allowing the city to charge retailers $2 a day.

“Abandoned shopping carts are becoming an increasing nuisance on public and private property in the city,” the council said. Said In the summary of the bill. City officials “spent a significant amount of time collecting and returning or disposing of carts.”

Lost shopping carts are a serious problem, said Matthew Dodson, president of Retail Marketing Services, which provides cart collection, maintenance and other services to major retailers in several western states. .

During the busy 2022 holiday season, Retail Marketing Service leased additional carts to retailers, recovering 91% of its nearly 2,000 carts. This is down from 96% the year before.

According to Dodson and others in the shopping cart industry, the increase in lost carts can be attributed to multiple factors. their belongings Or as a refuge. homeless is increasing Due to soaring housing prices, in many major cities, shortage of affordable housing, and other factors.There were also human incidents. steal a cart for scrap metal.

Some people, especially in urban areas, also use supermarket carts to carry groceries home from the store. Other carts will leave the parking lot if they are not locked during stormy weather or at night.

Indeed the problem is selfish shopping cart It’s nothing new. After being introduced in the late 1930s, they soon began to leave stores.

“A new threat threatens the safety of store drivers,” warned The New York Times in 1962. article“It’s the shopping cart.” Another 1957 New York Times article called the trend “cart napping.”

Like a guide to bird watching, there is also a book dedicated to this phenomenon and a system for identifying stray shopping carts, The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification.

Edward Tenner, a distinguished scholar at the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Research Center for Inventions, said the misuse of everyday items like shopping carts is an example of “deviant ingenuity.”

Similar to Malaysian Talapia Fisherman steal a pay phone In the 1990s, he said, he attached a receiver to a powerful battery and made a sound to lure fish.

Tenner hypothesized that people would take shopping carts from stores because they are so versatile and not available anywhere else.

Supermarkets have 200-300 shopping carts per store, and large chain stores can hold up to 800 shopping carts. Cart prices range up to $250, depending on size and model. Other equipment to the store.

For years, stores and cart manufacturers have increased the size of carts to help shoppers buy more products.

Stores have implemented cart safety and anti-theft measures over the years, such as cart rails and, more recently, wheels that automatically lock if the cart is too far from the store. (Viral video on TikTok A show Target customer is having trouble pushing a cart with wheeled locks. )

Gatekeeper Systems, which provides shopping cart controls to the country’s largest retailers, said demand for its “SmartWheel” radio frequency locks has increased during the pandemic.

so 4 storesWegmans uses a gatekeeper wheel lock.

A Wegmans spokesperson said, “The cost of replacing carts and finding lost carts and returning them to stores led to the decision to implement this technology.”

German grocery chain Aldi it is expanding rapidly In the US, it is one of the few US retailers that requires customers to make a quarter deposit to unlock their cart.

Coin-locked shopping cart systems are popular in Europe, and Poulos said more U.S. businesses are demanding coin-locked systems in response to the cost of runaway shopping carts.

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