Grocery stores in New Jersey are going to hell in a hand basket.
Garden State shoppers, angered by the state’s plastic bag ban, are fighting back — by stealing portable shopping baskets rather than spending pennies on a reusable bag.
“They get angry when they’re told they can’t take the basket out of the store, and some still walk out,” Kathy, who works at a ShopRite in New Jersey, told The Post on Tuesday.
“It’s a problem in our business. People seem to think it was the store that invented the bag ban, not the governor. People steal them because they forget their bags and don’t want to pay 34 cents for a reusable bag.”
Workers working up and down the Turnpike in grocery stores said plastic shopping baskets have all but disappeared from their stores since the plastic bag ban went into effect in May under a 2020 state law banning the use of single-use plastic bags .
An ACME employee in Fort Lee said hand baskets used to be readily available, but “not anymore” these days.
“They were stolen,” he said.
“It kind of motivates them,” the worker said of the plastic bag ban.
“It just seems like carrying the items is physically harder for some of them to do… They just pick it up and go.”
Another worker said the basket theft “happens everywhere.”
“I just walked in one day and they were gone,” he laughed.
At a ShopRite in Palisades Park, a worker said the store got rid of the baskets altogether after customers started raiding them.
“Customers would take them to the car and then take them home, so we got rid of them,” the worker explained.
“I think it’s easier for them to take it to the car and just leave it in the car. You’d think they’d bring it back the next day, but I don’t think so.”
The worker called the basket break-ins “pretty stupid” and said they couldn’t understand why customers wouldn’t just buy a reusable bag.
“I think I can see how handy it is if they take it to their car, but I would find it very inconvenient to carry. I’d rather buy a bag for 99 cents than carry the thing, but I think it’s easier for them,” the worker said.
“How comfortable is it for you to carry it out of the store?”
At Cafassos Fairway Market, workers have devised a strategy to trick their potential thieving customers – cardboard boxes.
“A lot of people don’t want to pay for the bags. They try to take the basket but we won’t let them, so we tell them to take the crates instead of the basket,” explained supervisor Pedro Ramirez.
A spokesman for Stop & Shop called rampant basket theft an “unintended consequence” of the plastic bag ban.
“Our customers are now more accustomed to the regulation and we continue to remind them to bring their own bags and to stock our own durable and affordable $2 for $1 reusable bags in store,” the spokesperson said.
Karen O’Shea, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the store has been forced to put up signs reminding their customers to leave their basket at the counter.
“We recognize that this is still a new law, and we continue to help customers adapt by reminding them to bring their reusable bags with them when they go shopping,” O’Shea said.
“We hope that people who use our baskets will remember to leave them in store after they have finished shopping, so that the baskets remain a resource for all of our customers.”
Some leaders are calling for the ban to be revised. State Senator Michael Testa, a Cumberland County Republican, said this week he wanted the bag limits to be “completely revised.”
“One of the unintended consequences of the new law has been grocery stores where the convenient ‘quick stop’ baskets that people use to get bread and milk are disappearing,” he said in a press release Monday. “So many have been taken home by shoppers that many grocers are no longer offering that convenience.”
Across the river in Manhattan, where a similar ban went into effect in 2020, grocery store workers were shocked to hear their Garden State neighbors had resorted to theft.
“Baskets? Nobody steals baskets here. That’s definitely weird. It didn’t happen when the bag ban was implemented,” said David Kang, the manager of an Upper West Side key food.
“We keep a watchful eye here.”
https://nypost.com/2022/09/20/nj-residents-fight-plastic-bag-ban-steal-shopping-baskets/ NJ residents fight plastic bag ban and steal shopping baskets