What Causes Damage to Shopping Baskets and Carts?

In many ways, shopping carts and baskets are the unsung heroes of grocery and retail stores. As customers, we often take them for granted even though we use them all the time. We don’t care or think much about the condition of our carts and baskets unless there is a clear problem. If, for instance, our basket’s handle is loose or our cart keeps veering to the left, we’ll probably reach for a different one. Otherwise, we’re much more concerned about grabbing our goods and getting them home undamaged. If our cart or basket takes a hit along the way, so be it.

If you own or manage a store that uses shopping carts and baskets, this attitude probably irks you a bit, even if you understand it from a customer’s perspective. After all, your carts and baskets are your property, and you want them to last as long as possible. That said, your assets will inevitably incur damage over time, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. On the plus side, knowing all the different causes of damage to your baskets and carts can help you better protect your property from harm.

Let’s go over some of the main causes of damage to shopping baskets and carts.

Wear and Tear

Like all vehicles, carts and baskets are meant to be used, which means their value starts to decline the second those wheels start rolling or those handles get grabbed. Because carts feature more moving parts than baskets, they will generally experience more wear and tear. However, shopping carts are also typically sturdier than baskets, as they’re designed to carry more weight, so this balances the scales a bit. Regardless, both new baskets and new shopping carts gradually get beaten up over time from similar causes; products are often thrown into them, they’re stacked on top of one another for storage, they get bumped by walls, shelves, objects, etc. These little scratches and dings eventually add up into more noticeable damage, even if it’s mostly cosmetic.

Obstacles and Narrow Aisles

Normal wear and tear of your carts and baskets is exacerbated when additional obstacles get introduced, such as cumbersome displays, misplaced objects, other shoppers, and narrow aisles. In these conditions, large shopping carts and baskets are especially susceptible to physical damage as shoppers struggle to maintain a clear path on their journey. One customer may play an unintentional game of bumper carts with another as they both try to reach for objects in the same aisle. And if someone is moving too quickly, their cart or baskets can actually knock down parts of a shelf or display, causing even more damage. In short, a lack of space can cause plenty of damage to carts and baskets.

Dirt, Dust, and Debris

Customers may deal some damage to your baskets and carts, but they’re not the only culprit. If you fail to maintain a clean store (especially clean floors), you can significantly shorten the lifespan of your shopping carts. When left unchecked, dirt, dust, oil, bacteria, and other debris will happily find a home in and around the wheels of your shopping carts. Over time, enough gunk can prevent the wheels from fully rotating. When this happens, the cart may scratch your floors, make unpleasant noises, or simply become inoperable or even dangerous for use. Baskets aren’t as affected by dirt and dust accumulation. Still, keeping your space clean is important in its own right, and will help you retain your customers.

Weather and Climate

Other causes of damage, namely environmental factors, are out of your control. Of course, you can still do something about it. For instance, you can protect your carts from rain, snow, and hail by placing an awning over your shopping cart corrals. Extreme temperatures can also cause your carts and baskets to warp and break at their weak spots. While not much can be done to prevent this reality, you may try to keep as many carts and baskets inside your climate-controlled store during these harsher periods. High winds can also roll away your carts and blow them over if they’re not properly secured or inside.


In a perfect world, parking lots would operate like clockwork and every one of your shopping carts would end up safely and gently placed in a cart corral. Unfortunately, people often neglect their surroundings when entering or exiting a parking lot, and many people leave carts (and even baskets) in the middle of the lot or parking spaces. It’s not uncommon for a car, truck, or bus to accidentally hit one of your carts. In every case, the larger vehicle wins. With this fact in mind, you might hire some personnel to retrieve carts and keep them in their designated areas. It’s also worth placing signs to remind customers to properly return their carts and baskets and to carefully watch their surroundings when navigating your parking lot.

No matter what you do, your carts and baskets will take on some bruises and scars. The good news is that you have some control over how quickly and severely this damage occurs. By investing in high-quality carts and baskets, ensuring your customers have enough space to move, maintaining a clean store, and hiring the right personnel, you can keep your carts and baskets alive and well for many years.

Good L Corporation delivers innovative shopping cart and basket solutions for retailers on a global scale. From a fleet of custom shopping carts to launch your store opening to replacement baskets that supplement your existing shop supply, Good L Corp can configure the right carryall strategy to boost your retail business. Let’s get started! Contact us today for a no-pressure sales quote.

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