Shopping cart

Shopping cart

A shopping cart (also called a trolley in British, Australian English, and New Zealand English; sometimes referred to as a carriage or shopping carriage in the New England region of the U.S.; also known as a bascart in some regions of the U.S., basket in others, and buggy in the American South and parts of Western Canada; ) 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 during shopping, and often to the customer's car after paying as well. Often, customers are allowed to leave the carts in the parking lot, and store personnel return the carts to the shop.


Almost all 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. 24,000 children are injured each year in shopping carts according to the [ American Academy of Pediatrics] . Some stores have child carts that look like a car or van with a seat where a child can sit. Such "Car-Carts" or "Beans", as some call them in the cart business, may offer protection and convenience by keeping the child restrained, lower to the ground, protected from falling items, and amused.

Shopping carts are usually fitted with four caster wheels which can point in any direction to allow maneuvering. However, when any one wheel jams, the cart can become difficult to handle. Many carts only have swivel caster wheels on the front, while the rear ones are on a fixed axle.

An alternative to the shopping cart is a small handheld shopping basket. A customer may prefer a basket for a small amount of merchandise. Small shops, where carts would be impractical, often supply only baskets. A collapsible utility cart has a basket pivotally mounted to a forward facing, C-shaped cart frame. As the lower portion of the C-shaped cart frame is moved under a flat bed (station wagon, etc), the upper part containing the basket slides onto the truck bed. The frame is then pivoted upward around the truck bumper and about the basket and conveniently stored around the basket. US patent|5503424 details this invention, which is marketed as Autocarts.

Often there is the problem of theft of shopping carts by pedestrian customers who use them to carry items home. See Theft Prevention below.


The first shopping cart was introduced on June 4, 1937, the invention of Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Humpty Dumpty 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. Another mechanic, Arthur Kosted, developed a method to mass produce the carts by inventing an assembly line capable of forming and welding the wire. The cart was awarded patent number 2,196,914 on April 9, 1940 (Filing date: March 14, 1938), titled, "Folding Basket Carriage for Self-Service Stores". They advertised the invention as part of a new “No Basket Carrying Plan.”

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," an offended woman 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.


In many countries, 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. The motivation behind the deposit systems is not theft deterrent since the trolley is worth significantly more than the deposit, however through this fee the retailer seeks to reduce the expense of their employees having to gather the carts that were not returned, and to avoid damages by runaway trolleys.

Although common in Europe, the deposit system has not been widely adopted in the United States, with the exception of some chains like Aldi, who require a $0.25 deposit.

The deposit varies, but usually coins of higher value, such as 1 or £1 are used. While the deposit systems usually are designed to accommodate a certain size of domestic coin, foreign coins, former currencies (like DM coins) or even appropriately folded pieces of cardboard can be used to unlock the trolleys as well.

Some retailers sell "trolley tokens" as an alternative to coins, often for charity.

A system similar to the shopping trolley deposit is also used 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.

Theft prevention


Theft deterrent systems are becoming popular in many shopping centers.Fact|date=July 2007 An electronic system works by locking one of the wheels, usually one on the front, when the cart is rolled out of a designated area. Each shopping cart is fitted with an electronic locking wheel, or 'boot'. A transmitter with a thin wire is placed around the perimeter of the parking lot. The boot locks when the cart leaves the designated area. Often a line is painted in front of the broadcast range to warn customers that their cart will stop when rolled past the line. The locked wheel is usually unlocked with a portable electronic device carried by store staff called a "CartKey" that sends a signal to the boot, unlocking the wheel.Fact|date=July 2007


Another less high-tech form of theft prevention is with the use of a physical impediment. One method popular in smaller stores is to use a vertical pole attached to the cart which is of a height greater than the store's doors will allow past.Fact|date=July 2007

ee also

*Shopping cart software (e-commerce, not software for physical shopping trolleys)
*Watson Systems


* Ted Morgan, "On Becoming American" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978), pp. 245-6.

External links

* [ Shopping trolley hazard alerts]
* [ Discarted]
* [ A history of Sylvan Goldman, inventor of the shopping trolley]
* [ Shopping Cart–Related Injuries to Children] American Academy Of Pediatrics
* [ "BBC News" story]
* [ The Stray Shopping Cart Project]
* [ How to create an EMP shopping cart locker]
* [ Collecion of pictures of abandoned shoppingcarts]
* [ Shopping Trolley Risks in the Retail Industry]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • shopping cart — ˈshopping ˌcart noun [countable] 1. a large metal basket on wheels that you push around when you are shopping in a supermarket; = shopping trolley Bre 2. COMPUTING COMMERCE software that keeps a record of the thing …   Financial and business terms

  • shopping cart — shopping .cart n AmE a large metal basket on wheels that you push around when you are shopping in a ↑supermarket = ↑cart …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • shopping cart — shopping carts N COUNT A shopping cart is the same as a shopping trolley. [AM] …   English dictionary

  • shopping cart — shopping ,cart noun count AMERICAN a large basket on wheels that you push, used in a supermarket for carrying the things you want to buy …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • shopping cart — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms shopping cart : singular shopping cart plural shopping carts American a shopping trolley …   English dictionary

  • shopping cart — pirkinių vežimėlis statusas T sritis informatika apibrėžtis ↑Elektroninės prekybos programose esantis failas (rinkmena) informacijai apie pirkinius prieš juos užsakant pateikti. Paprastai ekrane vaizduojamas pirkinių krepšeliu arba vežimėliu:… …   Enciklopedinis kompiuterijos žodynas

  • shopping cart — noun a handcart that holds groceries or other goods while shopping • Hypernyms: ↑handcart, ↑pushcart, ↑cart, ↑go cart * * * noun, pl ⋯ carts [count] : ↑cart 2, 1 …   Useful english dictionary

  • shopping cart — shop′ping cart n. 1) cvb a cart provided by a retail store for a customer s use collecting purchases 2) cmp cmp a list of items selected for purchase by a customer making an online transaction • Etymology: 1925–30 …   From formal English to slang

  • shopping cart — noun a conveyance used to carry groceries and other items, while shopping in a store. Syn: shopping trolley, trolley, carriage …   Wiktionary

  • shopping cart — a four wheeled cart provided by a supermarket or other retail store for a customer s use in collecting purchases. [1925 30] * * * …   Universalium