The Shopping Cart Promise

We pulled into the only open parking spot in the grocery store lot…

Only to suddenly have to back out due to a shopping cart that was already parked there! 


I’m curious –

What is The Shopping Cart Promise?

Is it real? Or is it something I have just imagined?

Please help me know if this is a “Promise” or not:

When you use a shopping cart in the store and push your purchases to the parking lot, you make an unspoken promise to return it, either to the store, or to the shopping cart stall, when you’re done. 

Is this just my imagination?

I couldn’t see a sign anywhere telling me to do so.

There were suggestions –

I found multiple signs in the parking lot that said “Carts”, so I placed mine there.



Is that the right place?

Because then I noticed how many shopping carts weren’t in the cart return, but instead were taking up parking spaces, some halfway up a curb, four against a wall, and two rolling away.



So, Dear Reader:

If there is a Shopping Cart Promise, what is it, and do you keep it?

Not the cart, but The Promise!



~ Jason Hewlett

Husband, Father, Writer, Mentor, Hiker

  • Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer * Coach & Mentor
  • World’s Only Keynote Speaker utilizing entertainment, musical impressions, and comedy to Create Legendary Leadership through the Power of Commitment
  • Author of “The Promise To The One”




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23 thoughts on “The Shopping Cart Promise”

  1. I work in retail. People say they return carts, but I can assure you they don’t. I think the return rate is about 25%. The other 75% is scattered throughout the lot. I wish there was a Shopping Cart promise.

    1. I live in Florida. Maybe our customers are just lazy here. I still only see a 25% return rate. But here’s hoping things improve


  2. Canada has some stores that make you put a dollar into the cart to make it go. You only get the dollar back if you return the cart to the cart stall.

    1. Yes, it’s the same in Africa and several places in Europe. The coinage in Africa is very small, five Rand, I believe, is what you have to stick in the machine to get a cart and that’s what you get back when you return the cart.

      It’s about twenty five cents in US dollars, and it seems to work.

      Sometimes there are roamers who look for abandoned shopping carts and return it for the five rand piece. These roamers will also watch your car so it is not broken into or stolen – if you give them a rand or two. If you don’t, well… I don’t know what happens!

      It’s the protection racket — and yet it works also.

      Now on to another “promise”. My uncle taught me to always grab a cart from the parking lot and take it into the store when you go in. He said that every little bit helps and if everyone would do that, it would save money.

      My aunt wittingly said, “Yes, and it would also put someone out of a job.”

      No winning that argument!

      1. Jason Hewlett

        You are so funny. I love it. And yes, taking the cart to assist another is a great idea, even if it means putting others out of a job!

    2. Jason Hewlett

      That would be very interesting to see how that would work in the US. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I definitely keep that promise. I cannot understand people’s lack of motivation to complete such a simple task.

  4. 90% of the time I keep the shopping cart promise, (I think of it as getting more steps in) the other 10%, in lieu of bad weather, I leave the cart close by (typically front wheels up on the curb so it doesn’t roll away)) and quickly jump in my car.

    Yes, I have much to improve upon.

  5. Jami L Lavery

    Yes I return the carts, our children, my husband return their carts. We often take carts from others with young kids or elderly people. After covid people act surprised by little kind acts such as these. We need more people to keep the cart promise.

  6. I always return carts to the stall or the store! It’s the little things. If I park by a random cart, I will take it in and use it. If I didn’t park near a return stall or am feeling “lazy,” I’ll do the infamous arm bag load up! (You know the one, when you’re unloading groceries from your car and only want to make one trip! HAHA!!)

  7. So many ways to answer this question seriously and not! I like to hook one wheel on the curb by where I parked so it doesn’t roll into someone’s car. Sometimes I’ll push (shoot) the cart from at least 30 ft away from the designated cart return stall to see how good my rolling aim is. If it looks like it’s going to miss, I have to run to catch it before it hits a car. It’s kind of like putting in golf. This is of course after I’ve ridden the cart from the store’s doors to my car if it’s downhill. You know, feet on the lowest rails and then lean forward over the basket so I don’t fall backwards.

  8. I ALWAYS take care of my cart! I have especially made good on this promise since I read Nickled and Dimed In America. If you don’t do your part someone else has to clean up after you. My mom taught me that that was not an option. : )

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