Nosy Neighbor: Why Did Whole Foods Get Rid of Its Small Shopping Carts?

whole-foods-shopping-cart-squareYou may have heard by now that Whole Foods replaced its stubby shopping carts with big ones. I was told it’s so customers spend more money; they told my friend it’s because people were stealing the carts (that’s insulting, as well as unlikely). Either way, it’s all the talk in produce. —P.

This was news to me! I don’t think I’ve ever used a cart there—it’s one of the benefits of not having kids, and one of the drawbacks of having a husband who won’t commit to a dinner plan till 4:30 p.m. In any event, sensing a question in there, I reached out to Whole Foods. Here’s what the rep said:

Over the past couple of years, our smaller shopping cart supply has been depleted from our store as a result of them being taken out to the street. The larger cart allows for a wheel locking mechanism that helps alleviates the ability to leave the store with the carts. Unfortunately, due to the depletion of the smaller carts, there were often times during peak hours that we did not have enough carts to service our shoppers and that led to our decision to move forward with the larger carts (with the lock)  to help us manage our inventory and ensure there were enough for our shoppers.

Got a question? Email it to or text 917-209-6473.

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  1. OMG i noticed this last night…no bueno

  2. That’s too bad because the smaller ones were really great for maneuvering between the Lululemon mafia post drop off/soulcycle.

  3. Looking forward to maneuvering these through such a well designed layout /s

  4. I noticed this on Friday too and thought surely it can’t be true. I really liked the smaller carts- they were more practical than those god damn wheeling baskets that always get in the way.

    This is all very much a first world problem but it is an annoyance nonetheless.

  5. Also, there are no longer small cartons for the salad bar.

    And did the salad bar just get a price increase?

  6. The large shopping carts don’t belong in NYC. They need to bring back the smaller ones. More practical.

  7. Agree. Yes where are all the small containers for salad bar?. Yes prices went up at hot station, salad bar as well as the olive section. Prices seem to go up about every other month in Whole Foods

  8. Is this their way of competing with Target’s small grocery section? Horrible decision. And the fact that ‘people steal carts’ is their reasoning is even more insulting than their price increases and rude checkout people. :(

  9. I’m now going to spend LESS because I refuse to use those large carts! Those big carts have awful wheels that get stuck all the time. No way Jose.

  10. At WH, we used to be able to buy four small haas ORGANIC avocados for $5.99. Now it’s four small CONVENTIONAL for 6.99. I’m thinking maybe the whole-bean coffee is less in quantity for the same price. I always decant the beans into my own jars, and I see a deficit. I miss the upright carts. Can’t manage the big ones at all, or getting around the double strollers. Gridlock in every aisle.

    • Don’t blame Whole Foods. Droughts and high demand for avocado toast has driven the price to the highest it has ever been. Business Insider has an article today about it.

  11. Trader Joes has smaller carts, never a shortage there, and excuse me – people walk out with small carts and no ome notices at WF(?!), but I guess at Traders they don’t have thives, and I rarely see any security there..please, nonsense…WF charges the same at the breakfast bar for pancakes and eggs, as salad bar for meats and substantial food items..duh. They never have enough registers open, Traders always does. The BMCC and Stuyvesant “youths” have taken over the Cafe as a study hall & game playing venue, bring in outside food, so actual customers of WF can’t find a place to sit, AND MANAGEMENT DOES NOTHING ABOUT IT..oh yes, and elevator always out of service. WF has zero competing in BPC and shows it. First, all should contact WF HQ in Austin, Tx, to complain, and then Trader Joes HQ begging them to open downtown. BPC residents complain, but take no substantial action..they are what they eat, or what they complain about.

  12. Whole foods did the same with the
    steam table containers, penny plnching
    and treating customers like idiots. The
    latter is the more insulting.

  13. Probably the carts are /were being stolen by the homeless!!!

  14. Why is saying “people steal carts” insulting?
    If it’s true, then it’s a valid reason, not an insult