Life

The Mysterious Case of the Ever-Growing Shopping Cart: Why Are They Getting Bigger and Bigger?

  Economists note that over the past 30 years, only one economic indicator has maintained a strong and stable growth trend: the size of shopping carts in supermarkets. Today, shopping carts at Sam’s Club, IKEA, etc. are twice as big as those in 1975, and there are even “influencers” sitting in shopping carts checking in and taking photos. Why is this? Citizen activist Ralph Nader believes this is a way for shameless capitalists to manipulate consumers: The shopping cart is so big that you feel embarrassed if you only buy a little something.
  But Western economics professors say that this is because in the past, most families had one member (often the wife) who was responsible for taking care of the family full-time, and one of their important responsibilities was to buy daily necessities for the family every week. As many women enter the workplace, the frequency of such large purchases has decreased, and they have to buy more things every time they go to the supermarket.
  Students also put forward various explanations in class. For example, houses are now larger than before, and the pantry (or refrigerator) at home is also much larger than before, so that people can buy more every time they shop. Food; now that the shopping aisles in supermarkets have become wider, supermarkets can equip larger shopping carts.
  The most powerful one is a reader named Kevin. He put forward 11 theories about this phenomenon, one of which elaborates like this: If the shopping cart becomes larger and stronger, if you want to steal the shopping cart again, you will have to steal the shopping cart. It’s even more difficult. This is a very good deal for the mall. A shopping cart costs $100 to $150. In the United States, most major cities have one or more companies that recycle and return abandoned shopping carts. A company has developed an anti-theft system for shopping carts. There is an object mounted on the front wheel. As long as the shopping cart crosses the magnetic railing, it will not be able to move.
  Shopping carts were invented to make it easier for customers to buy more, because at first supermarkets provided baskets that were easy to fill. For this reason, someone invented a shopping cart, but when it first appeared, customers were reluctant to use it. Female customers said that they often pushed strollers and no longer wanted to push shopping carts. Male customers felt that their arms were strong enough to carry the basket. The supermarket owner thought of a way to ask the clerk to pretend to be a customer, push a shopping cart around the supermarket, and lend it to customers who needed it, and said that other customers were also using it.

  The structure of the shopping cart was originally very simple, with a metal frame mounted on wheels. Later, telescope-type shopping carts appeared. The baffle at the back is movable, allowing another shopping cart to get in, thereby occupying the space occupied by the shopping cart. Space is reduced by 80%.
  Researchers have found that when shopping carts get larger, customers buy more. But there is also an advantage, that is, when using a basket, customers tend to buy some junk food, which is better when using a shopping cart.
  But until now, there is still a problem with the shopping cart, that is, it does not like to go in a straight line when pushed, and it is difficult to control its direction. You want it to turn left, but it might turn right. This is because the four wheels of the shopping cart are movable and floating, which makes it easy to move, but since each wheel rotates on an independent axis, it is not easy to control its direction. The solution is to limit the rotation of the rear wheels and use the front wheels to steer. Some countries already have such fixed-wheel shopping carts.
  The mathematical genius Max Planck once told Keynes that he briefly considered studying economics but later gave up the idea because it was too difficult. Keynes took this sentence as an anecdote and told it to a friend who had just arrived from Cambridge. His friend said: “Ah! This is strange. Bertrand Russell once told me that he also wanted to study economics, but he gave up because it was too easy.” “Freakonomics” “Undercover Economics” The emergence of popular economics books such as “Bare Economics”, “Buying a Large Cup of Coffee at Starbucks: The Economics of Prices and Life” may indicate that economics professors know that their theories are not simple and need to be popularized. To be understood.

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