The Smart Reason Grocery Stores Offer Pint-Sized Shopping Carts for Kids

A toddler in action with a miniature grocery shopping cart.
A toddler in action with a miniature grocery shopping cart. / romrodinka/iStock via Getty Images

While watching little kids push miniature shopping carts through grocery aisles can definitely be amusing, stores like Food Lion and Trader Joe’s don’t keep them in stock solely to entertain their grown-up customers.

In reality, it’s more about occupying the kids so their parents can shop without too many interruptions—and if you’ve ever witnessed a toddler have an all-out meltdown in the middle of a supermarket, you might have an idea of just how important that can be.

But that’s not the only reason so many stores have a few pint-sized carts on hand. As Joe Pinsker reports for The Atlantic, children enjoy them so much that they sometimes inadvertently influence their parents to continue shopping at a particular grocery store.

“Children have a lot to do with what goes in a household’s grocery cart,” Meg Major, vice president of content at Winsight Grocery Business, told Pinsker. “I do think it’s a loyalty builder for kids that get a vote to say, ‘Let’s go to Store X.’”

This rang true for Silicon Valley parent Raj Singh, who told Pinsker his son’s affinity for the miniature carts at Trader Joe’s caused them to become “more of a Trader Joe’s family.”

In other words, if your kid is asking to visit a store you know will guarantee a fun, drama-free shopping trip, becoming a repeat customer seems like a no-brainer. Having said that, the tiny vehicles don’t always make for a smooth errand. When Target introduced them to 72 stores in August 2016, a blogger started a movement called “Moms Against Stupid Tiny Carts,” which called for the removal of what she referred to as “vehicles of mass destruction.” She wasn’t the only parent who was less than thrilled with their kids’ new freedom to fill their own carts with toys and drive them around at breakneck speed—the backlash was so great that Target removed the carts the very next month.

All things considered, online grocery shopping doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

[h/t The Atlantic]