An Unusual Gated Community

An interesting interplay of product design, user experience, and theft occurs in the unlikely “shopping cart” world, specifically in urban areas.

As you see in this photo below, these gates outside a local convenience store prevent customers from removing shopping carts from the area immediately in front of the store.

Cart Gate Exit

Unfortunately the gates also prevent the carts even from being rolled to the parking lot, so if you’re buying anything heavy, you better count on having to lift and carry it out to your car.  Cart theft is still possible, but one would have to lift the carts above the gates, which I guess is enough of a deterrent.

Presumably, in general the store seeks to provide the best shopping experience for its customers, however, it has to counter-balance that goal with the need to make money.  When theft of shopping carts becomes prevalent enough that offering carts for customer use becomes an unmanageable cost, they need to either stop providing carts, or this solution!

Two additional observations:

  • Note the handicapped space left in the gates. Here concern for customer well-being (or federal regulation) re-enters the picture from a new direction. I didn’t try it, but it looks like the carts would fit easily through this larger gate.
  • The photo below shows a different store, where some gates still exist, but half of the enclosure was either torn down, or never built.  Did someone decide that the increased risk of theft was worth it, in order to provide a better shopping experience?



  1. Conall,

    With respect to the handicapped space, is it possible that while wide enough to permit passage by a cart, the wheelchair logos at either side are set low enough into the opening to allow passage by most wheelchairs, but not a shopping cart? I think the handle on the cart may be higher than the bottom of the logos and still not fit through the gate. If that is the case, why not make all the gates the same size. If it stops a cart, it stops a cart.

  2. conalldempsey says:

    @ Mark

    It definitely is possible that carts would be blocked by the wheelchair signs, and I have to assume correct, since it seems a blatant mistake on the design if that was not the case. I also agree, why not just make all the entrances the same size as the wheelchair entrance? I suspect the wheelchair entrance was not there originally and was only added as an afterthought, so it was cheaper to just change one of the gates, not all.

    Thanks for the discussion.

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