Anyone who has ever been to a supermarket and had course to use one of their trolleys will know just how independent these trolleys are. We all know they have a mind of their own when it comes to trying to steer them round the aisles, but they also have a habit of disappearing from the supermarket and ending up in ponds or rivers; on the side of the railway track or roadside verges; some are even taken home by the shoppers to be used in their back gardens!
Trolleys leaving the confines of their ‘home’ stores have become such a problem over the years the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued a paper to deal with the issue back in 2007. The catchy title for their publication was “Guidance on the Management of Shopping Trolleys” and was endorsed by the Minister for Local Environmental Quality. The minister’s endorsement said this: “It is in the interests of the environment and the communities that we live in, that local authorities, trolley owners, those responsible for water courses and transport facilities and others with an interest in the quality of the local environment, enter into voluntary agreement over the management of shopping trolleys and the treatment of abandoned trolleys wherever possible.”
According to the report, it was estimated that 10,000 new trolleys were stolen every year and many of those ended up abandoned. The cost of replacement for retailers was, on average, around £80 per trolley. Dealing with the removal, storage and disposal of abandoned trolleys also imposed a considerable burden on local authorities.
So what did the report conclude?
It came up with some potential measures to reduce the removal of trolleys from their stores:
- Wheel locking devices fitted to wheels that activate when the trolley crosses cables/magnetic paving in the ground at either exits or the entire perimeter of the premises (two-wheel locks are most effective)
- Installation of bollards or specialist paving presenting a physical barrier to the removal of trolleys from premises
- Vertical poles on trolleys that are tall enough to prevent them being taken out of the store
- Trolley locks that require a coin to release the trolley
Some of the stores opted to have the tags fitted to them which, allegedly (I’ve never tried this), clamp down over one of the wheels to prevent movement if the trolley is taken beyond a certain distance from the store. However, I have only come across one store which has fitted the truly high tech gadget from the list of suggestions above. The fitting of a pole to the side of the trolley! And it is so high tech, I have yet to see any would be trolley thief successfully remove one from the store’s premises.
There is a downside to the success of the high tech solution. Just imagine the sight. A tall pole stretching high towards the ceiling strapped to the back of a cart. Sound familiar? Ever been to the fair? Ridden the dodgems or bumper cars? The aisles in the store resemble a dodgem track (is that what a dodgem arena/circuit is called?) with people trying to avoid crashing into other shoppers as they push their heavily laden trolleys along narrow lanes. Actually, I’m not convinced all the users of these ‘vehicles’ try to avoid collisions!
Some people fail to notice this tall pole and make for the exit. With a loud clatter and a bit of cursing, they suddenly realise they have bent the pole, chipped the plaster and embarrassed themselves in their quest to get their shopping out of the store.
Right now, we are in the middle of half term and on the town’s seafront we have a set of dodgems. I think these trolleys would be a great addition to the cars and think I might try and get one out of the store to test it out! 😉