Sweetgreen was one of the first brands to announce a cashless strategy in 2016. The innovative idea to only accept debit and credit cards was supposed to speed up transactions and increase convenience for customers. At the time, Sweetgreen co-CEO Jonathan Neman told the New York Times that by not dealing with cash, “employees can perform 5–15 percent more transactions an hour.”
Now, the salad chain is switching strategies.
On Thursday, the company announced it would once again accept cash. The move comes after Amazon confirmed it would be taking cash at its “Go” stores, The New York Times reported.
“Ultimately, we have realized that while being cashless has advantages, today it is not the right solution to fulfill our mission,” Sweetgreen said in a statement.
While the idea of cashless stores was a revolutionary one a few years ago, the concept has since drawn criticism as it often excludes and discriminates against people who don’t have access to credit cards or bank accounts.
The company said, “Going cashless had these positive results, but it also had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash.”
In Philadelphia and across the state of New Jersey, laws banning cashless stores have been passed and Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Washington are considering banning the stores as well.
Sweetgreen acknowledges going cashless has caused the brand to stray away from one of its mission as a company to “build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.” In order to do that the company recognizes it needs to give customers access to all options when dining with them.
By the end of 2019, the policy will change at all of Sweetgreen’s 94 locations.
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