You won’t have to remember to bring loose change the next time you go shopping at a Weis grocery store.

The Pennsylvania-based grocer took a page out of ALDI’s playbook over the summer, requiring a 25-cent deposit from customers who wanted to use a shopping cart. Shoppers just had to stick a quarter into a slot to unlock the cart, and they’d get their money back after they returned it.

Weis billed it as an experiment, in a handful of locations. And now that experiment has ended. So shoppers who expressed concern that such a system might come to a grocery store near them can rest easy – for now.

“This was a brief test in a few of our stores,” Weis spokesman Dennis Curtin said in a statement. “That test has ended and we’re still exploring, but not planning to implement it chain wide anytime soon.”

That’s a relief to some shoppers, and a disappointment to others – showing just how divisive an issue this experiment turned out to be.

When Weis launched the test a few months ago, Curtin explained that it was “designed to help keep our prices low, make sure we have enough shopping carts in convenient locations, and minimize theft and damage to cars caused by loose carts.”

ALDI has most famously implemented a quarter-for-a-cart system, for similar reasons. The discount grocery chain is well-known for its lack of frills, so ALDI shoppers are used to its quirks. But other grocers who have tried the ALDI approach over the years have found that their shoppers don’t particularly want them to become like ALDI.


“ALDI only gets away with the shopping cart quarter because of their prices,” one customer tweeted at Weis. “Unless you plan to rival their prices I will not shop at Weis anymore if it requires my free labor.” Another said Weis “lost about $150 in purchases today because I didn’t have a quarter for your shopping cart. I won’t be shopping at Weis as long as this crap goes on with the shopping carts.”

Some expressed support for Weis’s experiment, saying they like the system at ALDI. “Using the quarter method is actually great,” one shopper wrote on Weis’s Facebook page. “Less damage to property because carts aren’t left all over the parking lot. Also, helps keep store costs down because employees aren’t wasting time going outside to collect them.” Another said they “wish every store did this.”

But the majority of comments seemed to be opposed to, rather than in favor of, the quarter deposit, for a variety of reasons. “It won’t work. People don’t walk around with quarters in their pocket,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “If you don’t normally return your cart, are you doing it for a quarter?” another wondered.

Others just didn’t like the perceived indignity of it. “We already scan our own purchases, and now they demand we pay to use a shopping cart. I’m waiting for these stores to assign us jobs stocking shelves and unloading trucks,” one disgruntled shopper wrote. Another, apparently with self-checkout attendants in mind, wondered “if they will pay an employee to stand there and watch me return my cart.”

As detailed in an earlier Coupons in the News article, ALDI may be most well-known for its shopping cart deposits, but many other grocers tried it several decades ago – and most didn’t stick with it for long. “Our customers responded that they didn’t like it,” one grocery executive said, while another admitted that “charging people for a cart didn’t fit in with giving customer service.”

Over the summer, Weis was optimistic that shoppers would get on board with the idea – eventually. “We understand this will be an adjustment for some customers,” company spokesman Curtin said at the time. “We’ll have quarters available for customers who need them to help with the transition. We also, as always, have hand baskets for smaller orders.”

But now, Weis shoppers won’t have to worry about fumbling for a quarter the next time they shop. Of course, Weis hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of changing its mind. After all, Curtin’s latest statement did say “we’re still exploring,” and that there were no plans to implement the system in all of its stores “anytime soon.”

So better keep those quarters handy, just in case. In the meantime, be sure to return your carts when you’re done shopping – otherwise all Weis shoppers may end up paying the price.

Image source: NEPA Pizza Review/Weis Facebook page

One Comment

  1. I’ve seen carts with the quarters still in them left in the parking lot at ALDI, but not often. Contrast that with Walmart where carts are left in parking spots and everywhere. I’ll take the quarter for a cart method.

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