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Putting side handles on a shopping cart can help you spend more money

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How Adding Side Handles to a Shopping Cart Can Help You Spend More Money (and It’s All About the Science of Wheelbarrows)

  • Side handles on trollies make us use our biceps – associated with pulling toward
  • A study suggests this change could boost sales for businesses by up to 25 percent
  • The City University study tested these handles against regular trollies










It seems an unlikely way to increase profits, but a study suggests that moving the handles on shopping carts could increase sales by 25 percent.

The theory goes that regular handlebar trolleys require you to use your triceps — a move that involves pushing things away that makes you pick up less.

But when using a trolley with parallel handlebars – a bit like a wheelbarrow – we use our biceps, which are used to pull things towards us, and thus put more in the trolley.

A normal handlebar makes you use your triceps - a move that involves pushing things away

When using a trolley with parallel handlebars – a bit like a wheelbarrow – we use our biceps which are used to pull things towards us, thus putting more in the trolley

The discovery was made by scientists at the Bayes Business School at the City University of London, who investigated how handles can influence buying decisions.

Professor Zachary Estes, who co-led the study, said: ‘It’s shocking to find that making a small change in the position of the handles can have such a big impact on shoppers’ spending.

‘Indeed, the handles ensure that we literally tighten our shop muscles.’

In tests, customers with regular trolleys spent an average of €22 in-store, but customers with modified trolleys spent €7 more.

Professor Estes said the results could also help savvy shoppers. “If they want to minimize spending, standard shopping carts can be a welcome and unexpected constraint to keep unnecessary purchases out of the cart.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Marketing.

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