Shopping carts can cost more than $120 US Dollars apiece, which is why so many stores go to great lengths to hang onto them. Many major cities in the United States actually have businesses built around finding lost shopping carts and returning them to their stores for a fee. Some stores actually use a Cart Anti-theft Protection System (CAPS) that consists of a brake that slams down when the cart passes a barrier at the edge of the store or parking lot and that can be unlocked only with a special electronic key.
More facts about shopping carts:
- Shopping carts got their start in grocery stores in Oklahoma City when Sylvan Goldman, a grocery store owner, wanted to figure out a way to keep people shopping longer, because they tended to leave when their baskets got too heavy. The carts initially weren't a success because men felt that they were a sign of weakness, and women felt that they were too much like baby carriages. Goldman's solution was to hire models to push the carts around the stores, which made them attractive to customers.
- Shopping cart handles aren't very clean — studies have found saliva, urine, fecal matter and blood from raw meat on the handles.
- Researchers think that there's a lot of room for innovation with shopping carts, and concept carts with electronic maps and grocery list screens, smart carts that "know" where items are and carts that have built-in credit card and debit card swipers have all been in development.