Great news! Starting July 1st, the American salad chain will resume accepting cash at its six Philadelphia restaurants, and by the end of 2019, sweetgreen will accept cash nationwide. The welcome announcement comes after the major US city banned cashless policies at brick-and-mortar shops or restaurants earlier this year.
Recently, Amazon learned the same lesson, announcing plans to accept cash in their new Amazon Go shops.
Ultimately, we have realized that while being cashless has advantages, today it is not the right solution to fulfill our mission. To accomplish our mission, everyone in the community needs to have access to real food.
Ever since the restaurant announced their no-cash plans at the end of 2016, sweetgreen has been cited as the go-to example of a cashless success story.
But in a shocking turn of events and a masterclass admission of defeat, the restaurant publicly admitted that its cashless experiment failed because it unfairly discriminated against those who cannot afford or access cards.
But, not for the first time.
The owner of the sweetgreen acknowledged in an interview with Fortune in 2017 that their cashless policy would discriminate against lowest income earners who rely on cash, calling it a 'pressing issue' but promising to find a solution by 2019. True to its word, sweetgreen has fulfilled its promise... by returning to cash!
At sweetgreen, we believe in the power of learning forward. That behind every experiment there is an opportunity and more importantly a lesson.
Going cashless had positive results, but it also had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash.
As our brand evolves, our initiatives will go through the process of trial and error – but no matter what the result is, we can’t lose sight of our mission that we’ve had since day one: Build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
At sweetgreen, we’re out to democratize real food and we’re honored and humbled that, you, our customers, are helping us get there.
In the US, cash is still the most frequently used payment form. The Federal Reserve's latest Diary of Consumer Payments shows that cash is used for 30% of all transactions and 55% of transactions under $10. Even with online shopping seemingly the norm, 77% of payments are still made in-person. Out of these, cash accounts for 4 in 10 transactions.
It appears that cashless overhype is fizzling out. Amidst the many reasons why cash matters, it is inspiring to see concern for equality driving the wave of support cash across the United States of America.