SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (FNS) -- In an effort to combat shopping-cart theft, Price Chopper Supermarkets here has implemented a loss-prevention system that consists of an electronic device that locks the cart wheels beyond a designated area.
Shopping-cart theft costs Price Chopper about $300,000 annually, according to Joanne Gage, spokeswoman for the 94-store retailer. To prevent this loss, the retailer outfitted approximately 500 carts with the device in a 67,000-square-foot store here in October.
"All shoppers end up paying the price of replacing lost or damaged carts," said Gage. "We are hopeful that this device will solve the age-old problem of customers 'borrowing' shopping carts. Even though we try to go out and pick up abandoned carts from surrounding neighborhoods, there are always some that end up as eyesores, just littering the community."
The device, from Kart Saver, Sacramento, Calif., is mounted over one of the cart's right wheels and activated by infrared light beams. As a cart is pushed beyond a designated perimeter within the parking lot, the infrared beams trigger the device to lock up the wheel. Store personnel can deactivate the units with a handheld remote.
Though the retailer is still evaluating the system, Price Chopper plans to roll out the device to other stores if it sees positive results, according to Gage.
Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass., is also using the system in two of its urban stores -- one in New Haven, Conn., the other in Boston. According to Bernard Rogan, spokesman for Shaw's, only one cart has been lost in the New Haven store since the system was implemented in July.
Shaw's typically carries between 300 and 325 carts per store, according to Rogan. Each cart replacement costs the retailer an average of $150, he added, but declined to comment on the number of carts lost annually.