You should think twice about using a basket instead of a shopping cart. Here's why

Marketing research suggests that there are three main possible reasons to walk into the supermarket: for a quick trip, to fill in the gaps, or to stock up on supplies and essential items (via Journal of Business Research). This is important to know because a study published in 2020 indicates that the kind of carrying equipment we might take as we walk into the store is very much determined by the reason we dropped by in the first place. The more we drop by the supermarket for quick trips, the smaller our shopping baskets or carts become, and as a result, the fewer items we purchase. When the study was conducted, researchers found that 20 percent of shoppers use carts, 28 percent use baskets, and 51 percent don't use any grocery carrying equipment at all.

Professional dietitians like Emily Cooper say using a basket can be a good way to keep your shopping in check because "Grabbing a basket instead of a cart can be a simple, yet effective way to stick to your grocery list, and just buy what you need." Marketing Specialist James Nuttall agrees. "It's all too easy to grab a giant cart and fill it up with extra items or impulse buys. When you get a shopping cart, there's often a psychological need to fill it," Nuttall says (via Business Insider). But some researchers argue that grabbing a basket can actually lead to unhealthy food choices.

A basket might tempt you to buy junk food

While Nutall's explanation seems to make sense, a group of European researchers disagrees. According to a study quoted by Time, the way a basket is carried applies tension and strain on the arm, back, and shoulders, making grocery shoppers more likely to pick up junk food because they want to reward themselves for the effort they need to exert to carry the shopping basket. They also noted that shoppers who carried baskets were more likely to select candy bars over fruit because, let's face it, carrying a basket when its got fruit in it isn't exactly light, and researchers say the uncomfortable body sensations will make it more likely for a shopper to snag the candy bar they might have ignored if they had gone in with a cart.

You could try and mitigate the junk food buying by doing everything experts recommend: shopping while you're full, having a list of things you need, shopping when you're calm and not angry, hungry, stressed, or tired; and staying away from sections which feature chocolate, chips, cookies, and candy (via HuffPost). Food prices have been trending up all year, and while suppliers expect these prices to drop sometime in the future, this may not happen soon enough (via Supermarket News). That is why it is important now, more than ever, to shop smarter when we're at the grocery.