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July 26, 2021

Shopping with hand-held basket encourages poor choices: Study

Using a shopping cart instead of a much smaller basket can help you make healthier choices as you cruise down the aisles. At least that’s the thinking behind a recent study in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Basket Watching people as they stocked up in the grocery store, the researchers found that people who used hand-held baskets instead of those insidious oversized carts were more than three times as likely to choose unhealthy over healthy food items.

Why, exactly, is a little complicated, but essentially the notion is that bodily sensations can influence our thoughts and emotions.

In this case, the researchers maintain that the act of flexing your arm, as required by the basket, somehow encourages you to choose smaller, easier and generally less healthy items, while extending your arm, as you do when you push a cart, has the opposite effect.

Although you might think that grabbing a basket would reduce the number of items you can pack in, it’s all about choosing instant gratification as opposed to sticking with long-term goals, the researchers maintain. Shoppers living hand-to-mouth, so to speak, are more likely to pick up unhealthy products like chips, candy and soft drinks.

Hmmm. When I use the little red basket I do tend to be in a hurry and therefore may be less likely to give much thought about what I am putting into it.

But I would have thought that cart people are more careful because they’re not simply shopping for themselves, are generaly working off some sort of list, and don’t want to have to come back the next day.

But what do I know?

When you go grocery shopping, do you use a cart or a basket? Does either impact your buying decisions?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...