Monday, April 17, 2006

Wal-Mart's Disservice To Frugal America (My Trip to Wal-Mart Today)

Next time you walk into your local Wal-Mart with a small shopping list, look for one of the small carry baskets (instead of shopping cart). I bet you'll have a hard time finding one. I spent 15 minutes (not kidding) today looking for one at my local Wal-Mart during off-peak shopping hours. While, I could have done without one, it became a mission to get to the bottom of why they weren't available up front.

Here's what I did (i'm on vacation, so I have the time):
(1) I checked with the greeters at both the household and grocery sides
(2) I looked in the front of the store (outside)
(3) I walked by each register once
(4) I made a second trip to each express lane and self-check out lane and looked again
(5) I walked the outer perimeter of the store looking down the rows to see if anybody was using one
(6) I went to customer service to ask where I could find one (no luck). Their response, I think people may have stole them. The few that we might have are probably already in use.
(7) In my opinion, the response received was rather uninformed. I picked up a prepaid envelope at customer service titled "Tell Us How We're Doing." The envelope goes straight to Bentonville, AR. I figure that i'll transfer some of my thoughts to paper and mail them in.

In the end, I resisted the temptation of grabbing a shopping cart and picked up only those things on my shopping list. I was a bit disgruntled when I thought to myself that the store that touts "always low prices" isn't as friendly as it could be to frugal shoppers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive. I know why Wal-Mart may be doing this. However, it's a bit unfair to those that only want to shop for a small amount of items and don't want to push the bulky carts around.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I did not see one single shopper carrying a basket. If my local Wal-Mart is an accurate barometer, one could infer that Wal-Mart might be on a mission to force people with small shopping lists to use shopping carts. The use of these larger than desired carts could be changing shopping habits at the door (while adding unnecessarily to aisle traffic problems). Whether people realize it or not, I feel that people showing up with small shopping lists may be changing the list at the door when they realize that the small carry baskets are not available and that they have sooo much extra space for purchases.

9 comments:

Tricia said...

You know what - I just went to Walmart the other day and I was just thinking that their shopping carts keep getting bigger and bigger! I didn't even think of looking for the little baskets, but I will definitely check next time I go. Great post :)

Finance Junkie said...

... Kinda like when McDonalds switched to the larger diameter straws years ago. This increased drink throughput and IMO marginally increased likelihood for drinking more and therefore supersizing.

Finance Junkie said...

Yeah, I've also noticed the shopping carts getting bigger in size at Wal-Mart. Clever how they do it quietly without publicly mentioning it... Aisle traffic jams are going to steadily increase because of these bulky carts.

Apex said...

They are an independent business. If you believe their motives to be sinister you do not have to support them by shopping there.

Most retail outlets do many things to try to get you to increase your shopping list. End cap advertisements, checkout isle teasers, promotional sale items with prominent placements. Advertisements and marketing campaigns about things you could buy that you didn't have on your list.

It seems to me that if we are concerned about companies trying to get us to buy things we don't need there are a multitude of ways we are inundated with messages encouraging us directly to buy things that are far more likely to have an impact than the indirect method of giving us a container that has more space in it than we need.

Finance Junkie said...

Good point Apex... I'm not naive as to why they do this; however, I'M CONCERNED that others may be going there to "save money," and are unconciously shifting spending habits because Wal-Mart chooses not to offer the carry baskets.

Apex said...

Unfortunately I think the American mindset has led to most people consistently spending more than they should on almost everything from cars, to houses, to boats, to TVs, to furniture, to clothes, to food, to mocca latte's. And all the players in industry are more than happy to play right into it in every way they can think of it.

And people think why not, just put it on the plastic and I can afford the minimum payments, no problem.

Can you image the generation of those who came of age in the 30's and 40's acting like that? That generation bought things almost exclusively for one reason, they needed it. For most people in that generation, buying things they didn't need was a rare indulgence.

It is possible that people will spend more than they had planned at walmart if they use a cart instead of a basket. Just one more in a list of thousands of ways we are encouraged to empty our wallets.

I am reluctant to put the responsibility on the corporation whose task is to increase sales. As long as they are legal and ethical in their business dealings (I make no claims about Walmart either pro or con in that area) I tend to put the responsbility on the individual to be responsible. Do you have a different perspective on where the responsibility lies?

Tschepsit said...

I usually end up paring down my list to whatever fits in my hands when I can't find the baskets by the door. I hate the slow pace of most shopping-carted Wal-Mart customers anyway, so it would drive me nuts to be stuck behind them with a cart.

Anonymous said...

People keep stealing our baskets at wal-mart, that is why we never have any. Of course they aren't in a hurry to replace them.

Anonymous said...

At our Walmart they have a few medium size carts left and mostly the big ones and no hand baskets. Yes I look too. With the large carts you get stuck in the isles waiting for a clearing so you can move. So forget them. I get JUST what I need in my arms and leave... They loose...no time for me to look at items to impulse buy like they want us to do!