Carts and Sales (11-29-21)

Estes and Streicher’s work makes it clear that retail design and planning should support use of certain sorts of shopping carts.  The research duo reports that “Prior research on ergonomics indicates that standard shopping carts, which are pushed via a horizontal handlebar, are likely to activate arm extensor muscles. Prior research on arm muscle activation, in turn, suggests that arm extensor activation may elicit less purchasing than arm flexor activation. . . . The authors predicted that shopping carts with parallel handles (i.e., like a wheelbarrow or ‘walker’) would instead activate the flexor muscles and thus increase purchasing. . . . In a field experiment, parallel-handle shopping carts significantly and substantially increased sales across a broad range of categories, including both vice and virtue products. Finally, in a simulated shopping experiment, parallel handles increased purchasing and spending beyond both horizontal and vertical handles. These results were not attributable to the novelty of the shopping cart itself, participants’ mood, or purely ergonomic factors.”

Zachary Estes and Mathias Streicher.  “Getting a Handle on Sales:  Shopping Carts Affect Purchasing by Activating Arm Muscles.”  Journal of Marketing, in press,