Buy a pack of gum at a New York drugstore, get a foot-long receipt. That’s just one example of the paper-trail overload generated by many retailers in recent years, the Wall Street Journal reports. What was once a record of your purchase has become a ribbon of countless coupons, contests, and reminders. “The receipt issue has gotten out of hand,” says one shopper, whose complaints are echoed by others: "You feel like you have a very special document in your pocket, when in reality you bought a Sprite at a Best Buy."
Receipts have existed since 1884, when cash-register maker NCR built machines that offered paper records as a way to ensure employees weren’t up to any funny business. Little changed until this decade, the Journal notes. Now, some customers have stopped wanting their receipts at all. But others find their coupons exciting. When “it curls around,” notes one, “I know I'm getting something."