Shopping list

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Grocery shopping list written with pen on paper from a notebook

A shopping list is a list of items needed to be purchased by a shopper. Consumers often compile a shopping list of groceries to purchase on the next visit to the grocery store (a grocery list). The shopping list was known 2000 years B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia.[1][unreliable source?] There are surviving examples of Roman[2] and Biblical[3] shopping lists.

The shopping list itself may be simply a scrap piece of paper or something more elaborate. There are pads with magnets for keeping an incremental list available at the home, typically on the refrigerator, but any magnetic clip with scraps of paper can be used to achieve the same result. There is even a specific device that dispenses a strip of paper from a roll for use in a shopping list. Some shopping carts come with a small clipboard to fit shopping lists on.


Use of shopping lists may be correlated to personality types. There are "demographic differences between list and non list shoppers; the former are more likely to be female, while the latter are more likely to be childless."[4] Remembering a shopping list is a standard experiment in psychology.[5] Shopping with a list is a commonly employed behavioral weight loss guideline designed to reduce food purchases and therefore food consumption. Studies are divided on the effectiveness of this technique.[6][7]

Some studies show approximately 40% of grocery shoppers use shopping lists,[8] while other studies show 61–67% use lists.[9] Of the items listed, 80% were purchased. However, listed items only accounted for 40% of total items purchased.[10] Use of shopping lists clearly impact shopping behaviour:[11] "Written shopping lists significantly reduce average expenditure."[12]

Incremental lists[edit]

The list may be compiled immediately before the shopping trip or incrementally as shopping needs arise throughout the week. Incremental lists typically have no structure and new items are added to the bottom of the list as they come up. If the list is compiled immediately before use, it can be organized by store layout (e.g. frozen foods are grouped together on the list) to minimize time in the store. Preprinted lists can be similarly organized.

See also[edit]

  • Checklist, a job aid used for repetitive tasks or procedures
  • To do list, a list or "backlog" of pending tasks


  1. ^ "8 Historic Artifacts that Cover 4,000 Years of Shopping History!". Listonic. 2018-10-24. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  2. ^ "Roman shopping list deciphered". 5 March 2001. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  3. ^ O'Grady, Cathleen (2016-04-15). "Ancient shopping lists point to widespread Bible-era literacy Handwriting recognition algorithm suggests even lower-rank soldiers were writing". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  4. ^ Thomas, W., & Garland, R. (November–December 1998). "Grocery shopping: Why take a list to the supermarket?" (PDF). ANZMAC98 Conference. Dunedin, NZ: University of Otago. pp. 2603–17. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2, 2007.{{cite conference}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Giuliana Mazzoni (1997). "Remembering the Grocery Shopping List: a Study on Metacognitive Biases". Appl Cogn Psychol. 11 (3): 253–67. doi:10.1002/(sici)1099-0720(199706)11:3<253::aid-acp454>;2-0.[dead link]
  6. ^ Beneke WM; Davis CH (1985). "Relationship of hunger, use of a shopping list and obesity to food purchases". Int J Obes. 9 (6): 391–9. PMID 3830932.
  7. ^ Beneke WM; Davis CH; Vander Tuig JG (1988). "Effects of a behavioral weight-loss program food purchases: instructions to shop with a list". Int J Obes. 12 (4): 335–42. PMID 3198311.
  8. ^ " | The Star | Canada's largest daily". Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  9. ^ Art Thomas and Ron Garland, Grocery shopping: Why take a list to the supermarket? Archived 2007-07-02 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Lauren G. Block; Vicki G. Morwitz (1999). "Shopping Lists as an External Memory Aid for Grocery Shopping: Influences on List Writing and List Fulfillment". Journal of Consumer Psychology. 8 (4): 343–75. CiteSeerX doi:10.1207/s15327663jcp0804_01. JSTOR 1480440.
  11. ^ Thomas, A & Garland, B R. (2004). "Grocery shopping: list and non-list usage". Marketing Intelligence & Planning. 22 (6): 623–35. doi:10.1108/02634500410559015.
  12. ^ Art Thomas; Ron Garland (1993). "Supermarket shopping lists: their effect on consumer expenditure". International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management. 21 (2).