A shopping cart (American English) or shopping trolley (British English), also known by a variety of other names, is a cart supplied by a shop, especially supermarkets, for use by customers inside the shop for transport of merchandise to the checkout counter during shopping. In many cases customers can then also use the cart to transport their purchased goods to their vehicles, but some carts are designed to prevent them from leaving the shop.
In many places in the United States and the United Kingdom, customers are allowed to leave the carts in designated areas within the parking lot, and store personnel will return the carts to the storage area. In many continental European premises, however, coin- (or token-) operated locking mechanisms are provided to encourage shoppers to return the carts to the correct location after use.
The names of a shopping cart vary by region. The following names are region specific names for shopping carts.
- shopping cart, shopping basket ,grocery cart, supermarket cart – The United States and Canada.
- shopping buggy, grocery buddy, supermarket buddy – Used by some in Southeast Michigan, the Southern United States and parts of Canada
- shopping trolley, grocery trolley, supermarket trolley – the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa and some regions of Canada.
- shopping carriage, supermarket carriage, grocery carriage – Used by some in the New England region of the United States.
- shopping wagon, supermarket wagon, grocery wagon – New York, Hawaii.
Development of first shopping cart by Sylvan Goldman
One of the first shopping carts was introduced on June 4, 1937, the invention of Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma. One night, in 1936, Goldman sat in his office wondering how customers might move more groceries. He found a wooden folding chair and put a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs. Goldman and one of his employees, a mechanic named Fred Young, began tinkering. Their first shopping cart was a metal frame that held two wire baskets. Since they were inspired by the folding chair, Goldman called his carts “folding basket carriers”. 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 They advertised the invention as part of a new “No Basket Carrying Plan.” Goldman had already pioneered self-serve stores and carts were part of the self-serve retail concept.