After a backlash, Amazon Go’s New York store is finally accepting the money

Cash is still king.

Brett David, 39, from New York, prefers to pay cash only. “I never leave my house without at least $100 cash on me, and if I split a bill with one or two other people, I’ll use cash whenever possible,” said David, manager creative of the Rochelle bar in New York. , said.

But David will soon find more places willing to accept his money.

The online retail giant has announced it will accept cash at its new cashierless store, which opened in New York on Tuesday, after facing backlash last month from people who criticized its cashierless stores for shutting down the 8.4 million people who don’t. have bank accounts.

Cashless businesses are excluding millions of Americans without bank accounts, consumer advocates say. Amazon Go bowed to the pressure.

The New York Amazon Go is the company’s 12th location and the first to accept cash. Amazon spokeswoman Kerri Catallozzi said all Amazon Go stores will eventually accept cash. Others are located in Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco.

Washington, D.C.-based salad chain Sweetgreen will also resume accepting cash at all of its 94 locations by the end of the year following the backlash cashless stores have faced. for excluding people without a credit card or bank account, the company announced last week.

No federal law requires retailers to accept cash, but state and city lawmakers have stepped in to stop businesses from switching to bank cards and mobile payments. The state of Massachusetts has passed a law requiring stores to take cash since the late 1970s.

The city of Philadelphia was the first city to follow in Massachusetts’ footsteps earlier this year. New Jersey then introduced a similar policy requiring stores to accept the greenback. New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres is also trying to ban cashless stores.

Going cashless was once touted as a way to streamline operations as America slowly shifts to mobile, plastic-only payments, which countries in northern Europe and Asia have embraced for years, but U.S. cashless businesses have encountered problems.

Consumer advocates say asking customers to pay with plastic or a smartphone is a matter of social justice. They say the 8.4 million people who don’t have a bank account, debit card or credit card have been left ‘unbanked’ in the US – out in the cold.

Amazon said it will soon begin accepting cash at more than 30 of its physical stores, including convenience stores and Amazon Go bookstores.

“Cashless has had positive results, but it has also had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer or can only pay in cash,” Sweetgreen wrote in a blog post announcing the change. (Sweetgreen declined to comment beyond that statement.)

“In the end, we realized that if cashless had advantages, today it is not the right solution to fulfill our mission. To accomplish our mission, all members of the community must have access to real food,” he added.

The fast-food chain, which sells salads and cereal, vegetable and protein bowls for around $10, first went cashless in 2016 to reduce the risk of theft, speed up service and reduce its carbon footprint. (He said skipping money means he uses fewer armored trucks and less paper.)

When Sweetgreen opened in 2007, 40% of its transactions were cash, the company said in December 2016. But by early 2016, less than 10% of its transactions were cash, Sweetgreen reported. That’s when he started experimenting with cashless in some stores.

Getting rid of cash has helped make stores more efficient, the company said. Workers were able to complete 5% to 15% more transactions each hour, meaning customers walked out “several minutes faster,” Sweetgreen said when introducing cashless stores.

As of Monday, the Sweetgreen location on Wall Street was still not accepting cash. Madeline Norling-Christensen, spokeswoman for Sweetgreen, said the company will resume accepting cash beginning July 1 in Philadelphia and all other locations by the end of the year.

Lawmakers in Philadelphia and New Jersey recently intervened to block businesses from switching to bank cards and mobile payments.

Last December, Danny Meyer, the restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality – the group behind New York restaurants like Martina, Daily Provisions and Caffe Marchio – said more of his restaurants were going cashless.

Like Sweetgreen, he raised concerns about the safety of staff dealing with large amounts of cash and faster customer service. (There may be another reason: Some observers say cashless businesses also prevent the likelihood of employee theft.)

Meyer said, however, that there may be exceptions. “Policies can be broken in the name of hospitality, and if someone wants to enjoy our food and drink, but can only pay cash, we are unlikely to refuse them,” Meyer wrote. last June in an article on LinkedIn. .

Shake Shack SHAK,
+3.32%,
another company, Meyer, put its cashless plan on hold last year after realizing that many of its customers were paying in cash. The burger chain tested a cashless model at its Astor Place location in New York, but customers weren’t happy with it.

“Forcing customers to use only credit or debit is a discriminatory business model that disadvantages low-income people, people of color and seniors,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store. Union.

“To have credit, a person must have a bank account, and to buy things without cash, a person must have credit,” he said. “This means that people without a bank or credit card cannot shop at these businesses, effectively preventing people from participating in the local economy.”

In the United States, 6.5% of households do not have a bank account, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. More than 24 million households are “underbanked,” meaning they have used services outside the banking system like check cashing businesses.

Brett David, meanwhile, is happy to keep using cash. “I don’t have a credit card because I don’t need one,” he said. “Also, I don’t want to be tempted to go into massive debt.” He racked up $2,500 in credit card debt when he was 23. He swore never to find himself in this situation again.

Amazon shares are up 28% year-to-date. The Dow Jones DJIA Industrial Index,
+1.05%
was up 11% and the S&P 500 SPX,
+1.06%
increased by 17% over the same period.

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