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City’s Shopping Cart Ordinance Draws Scrutiny From Association

photo of Gary Huddleston, grocery industry consultant for the TRA.
Gary Huddleston

Question why they’re responsible for abandoned shopping carts that were stolen from their property

A 9,000-square-mile, 13-county region, North Texas is home to 7.5 million people. It is made up of 150 cities – including Dallas and Fort Worth – with 15 of those boasting a population of more than 100,000.

Grocers in North Texas, as well as other regions across the state, are continuing to deal with post-COVID-19-pandemic challenges such as supply chain and workforce issues along with inflation. Despite these issues, grocery retailers are cautiously optimistic for 2023, according to Gary Huddleston, grocery industry consultant for the Texas Retailers Association.

“Our Texas grocery retailers continue to experience some headwinds with inflation and hiring opportunities. The market continues to be strong, with additional families moving into Texas daily.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth region of North Texas continues to grow, according to an article on commercial real estate in Dallas Innovates. Bill Sproull, an innovation-led economic development expert in DFW, told the online news platform that the number of people and companies moving to North Texas “staggers the mind.” 

shopping cart

Coming out of the pandemic, Sproull said he believes the DFW region leads the nation in recovering quickly and regaining lost jobs.

The article also quoted Robert Sturns, who leads the economic development efforts for the city of Fort Worth. In addition to growth in the city’s historical base, he said the area has “done a really good job across Dallas-Fort Worth of diversifying industries, looking at life sciences and biotech and expanding technology efforts.”

According to a report by the North Texas Commission, the region ranks among the top three U.S. metro areas for business expansion, relocations and employment growth. North Texas Fortune 500 companies have reported more than $1 trillion in revenue, the report states.

Legislature in session

The Texas Legislature began its biennial session in January. The Texas Retailers Association is supporting bills to reduce inventory tax, arrest and convict organized retail criminals, reduce credit card fees and protect data privacy, Huddleston said.  

“The association also supports the opportunity for retailers to expand the product assortment within alcoholic beverage sales.”

TRA is opposed to any legislation that would limit customer choice and raise the cost of doing business, Huddleston said. 

The association is “the voice of retailing,” he said, and as such works on behalf of its members. A proposed shopping cart ordinance in Fort Worth caught TRA’s attention. The ordinance was developed to “support a clean and safe community by controlling abandoned shopping carts.” 

TRA provided feedback to city staff regarding retailers who have “invested significantly in basket theft prevention systems,” Huddleston said.

“We believe the retailer who has made this investment should be exempt from the ordinance. The city recognized this fact and placed new language in the ordinance.”

The ordinance, which was approved by the city council in February, states the recovery fee shall not be assessed if the abandoned cart has a functioning wheel-lock installed.

TRA also gave feedback regarding the number of hours required to pick up the abandoned (stolen) basket.

“We believe 24 [hours] is not a reasonable amount of time to notify the correct staff member at the store and schedule staff to pick up the basket. We believe a more reasonable time frame is 72 hours or three days.”

The approved ordinance kept the 24-hour time period for abandoned shopping carts to be removed from public spaces.

It also contains a $50 fee for the retailer to recover its cart from a city drop-off station within 30 days.

Huddleston said TRA responded that a new basket costs between $150-$300, depending on size and type. In some cases, if the basket is older, the retailer might decide that investing in a new basket is a better use of assets.

“Our retailers in the city of Fort Worth realize the goal is to clean up the city. However, fundamentally, retailers have a tough time with the concept that they are responsible for abandoned baskets when the basket has been stolen from their property.”

Huddleston said Fort Worth retailers share the goal of a clean city.

“Many retailers participate in Adopt-A-Road and commit to clean-up days. We would have preferred the criminal, who took the basket off the parking lot without permission, be punished. 

“We will certainly make every effort to comply with the ordinance. I would add the more punitive measures a city puts on retailers makes it more challenging to open new stores in underserved areas.”

To read more association news from The Shelby Report, click here.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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