NTUC FairPrice has launched the Trolley Enforcement Project to address the industry-wide issue of supermarket trolley abandonment, not only prevalent in Singapore but throughout the world.
It is being tested at a FairPrice supermarket and FairPrice Xtra hypermarket at Jurong Point Shopping Mall, where customers are being advised that action will be taken against shoppers who take trolleys from the mall. Public outreach for the initiative will include community touch-points supported by town councils, grassroots organisations, schools, tertiary institutions and community engagement agencies.
NTUC FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng says supermarket trolleys are provided as a service for shoppers and enhance the overall shopping experience. “Unfortunately, some users have developed an ungracious habit of abandoning the trolleys after use instead of returning them. This obstructs walkways and public spaces, posing a safety hazard and causing inconvenience to others. It also deprives other shoppers from using our trolleys.”
He says the enforcement project adopts a holistic approach of educating the public on responsible trolley use while also deterring shoppers from wheeling trolleys away from the mall.
FairPrice last year lost about 1000 trolleys, from 90-plus stores that provide the service. This cost the organisation more than $150,000 in trolley replacements and repairs and well as for the manpower needed to retrieve abandoned trolleys. This is an increase of almost 20 per cent compared to five years ago.
Both FairPrice outlets within Jurong Point Mall have the highest incidence of trolley abandonment cases. Between 150 and 200 trolleys are retrieved on a daily basis, despite the mall having 17 trolley return bays.
To enhance engagement with its customers on the issue, FairPrice will pilot trolley enforcement officers at its Jurong Point stores. They will wear identification vests, and be stationed at the exit of stores to give advice and share educational fliers. This campaign collateral will clearly state that trolleys are the property of FairPrice, which has the right to report offending customers to the police.
Jurong Point Shopping Mall management will also publish campaign materials through its social media, website, mobile app and electronic direct mailers to its subscribers. There are already in-store signs and messages that remind customers to return trolleys.
Meanwhile, FairPrice has been working with Singapore Kindness Movement’s (SKM) Seed Kindness Fund to involve Republic Polytechnic students to spread the word about considerate trolley through the use of video content on social media.
Involvement at grassroots level includes support from Frontier Community Club, which has engaged students from Jurong West Secondary School to distribute fliers at the mall and nearby residences, plus posters are being put up in the neighbourhood.
FairPrice has organised multiple public-education campaigns over the past six years to urge shoppers to be considerate and responsible by returning trolleys. Past initiatives have included security initiatives such as perimeter fencing and the coin-lock system – none of which were effective.