Shortly after New Jersey enacted a strict ban on plastic bags three months ago, Aberdeen Shoprite employees noticed something unusual. The store’s handheld vinyl shopping basket was missing.
They soon realized that impudent shoppers who didn’t bring their own bags and didn’t want to buy 33-cent reusable bags were leaving the store with their baskets full of groceries. .
“They took them out and never came back,” said an Aberdeen ShopRite employee who declined to be named. “The hand basket is completely gone.”
And since Monmouth County stores aren’t buying new shopping baskets, the ban on plastic bags has taken the grocery store’s modern convenience away.
“If we get more, people will steal them again,” the employee added.
New Jersey banned the use of single-use plastic bags at all store checkouts on May 4, in addition to paper bags at large grocery stores. The bag ban bill was signed into law in November 2020, giving stores and customers 18 months to prepare.
Despite lengthy warnings, several grocers across the state say they’re ignoring basic shopping rules and common decency by stealing hand-held baskets from unprepared customers. I am reporting.
Mary Ellen Peppard, vice president of the New Jersey Food Council, a group representing the state’s grocers and supermarkets, said, “Most customers have adapted, but unfortunately our members We’ve seen an increase in customers who take store baskets and don’t return them.”
“These baskets are expensive and some stores have decided not to replace them,” she said.
Peppard noted that the basket normally costs $8, but that price may have gone up due to inflation.
Michael Taliyah, a Shoprite employee at Jersey City’s Metroplaza, said the handheld baskets in his store were removed on May 1, before the plastic bag ban started days later.
A ShopRite spokesperson said hand basket theft was a “larger industry problem,” but didn’t say how many locations had removed the baskets altogether.
Hand baskets are still available at Flemington Shoprite, but since the bag ban, some people have used hand baskets to bring items into their cars and never returned, says Shannon, catering coordinator at the Hunterdon County store. Mr George says. Her signage now instructs customers that baskets cannot leave the store, she said.
ShopRite isn’t the only grocery store dealing with theft.
An employee at Midland Park Acme in Bergen County said her store did not have any baskets in stock this week. When asked if Acme in Woodbury, County Gloucester had baskets, an employee replied, “Not right now, because everyone is stealing baskets.”
Dan Adams, assistant manager of Bloomfield Stop and Shop, said baskets from Essex County stores have been consistently stolen since they stopped free plastic bags.
“If you order 15 or 30 hand baskets, they’ll be gone within a week,” says Adams. “We order every other week.”
Stop and Shop spokeswoman Stephanie Schumann admitted that customers at her chain stores are also ravaging shopping cart piles.
“Like other retailers across the state, we have experienced mobile shopping basket thefts, an unintended consequence of the plastic and paper bag ban,” she said.
A Whole Foods Market spokesperson also said their stores “experienced problems with customers taking handbags as a result of the bag ban. However, we are not removing handbags from our stores at this time. ”
Not all chain stores lack shopping baskets. Wegmans spokesman Marcie Rivera said the chain had no problem with basket theft. Trader She reached out to spokespeople for Joe’s, Acme, Aldi and Walmart for comment but did not immediately hear back.
But grocers say brazen basket theft doesn’t just happen in Jersey.
In 2020, after plastic bags were banned at Safeway in Redmond, Oregon, baskets began to disappear. According to NewsChannel 21, other Bend employees also reported missing baskets. Grocery stores have reported similar thefts in Connecticut, Wyoming, and Seattle.
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To contact Brianna Kudisch: [email protected].