Why Do You Get a 2-Foot-Long Receipt for a Pack of Chewing Gum?

We set out to solve a retail mystery

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As shoppers troop off to buy gifts for the holiday season, ringing up an estimated $877 billion, most of them will go home not just with their purchases, but also with a paper receipt in the bag.

Often, it's a very a long paper receipt in the bag.

American retailers crank out 1.4 billion pounds of paper receipts each year, and the sometimes staggering length of them has led to plenty of ranting. A diatribe in The Atlantic a few years back called long receipts a "creeping sign of postmodern malaise," and a problem that's "been swirling out of printers and control for too long."

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