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Sweetgreen will start taking cash again after ‘unintended consequence’ of excluding those who pay with paper

Going cashless 'had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash.'

Washington D.C.–based salad chain, Sweetgreen, will start letting customers pay with cash again by the end of the year.

In 2016, the company announced they were going cash-less, allowing customers to only pay with cards. At the time, company representatives said it was to increase employee safety by reducing incidents of robbery, be more sustainable by reducing armored cars and using less paper, and speed things up in the restaurants. 

However, company officials wrote in a release, it also “had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash.”

Last week, the company reversed their decision and said they will begin accepting cash in all nearly 100 of their restaurants by the end of 2019.

Many people have criticized restaurants that do not accept cash, saying the establishments are preventing people that do not have bank accounts from eating there.

The DC Council is even considering a bill that would ban retailers from discriminating against cash as a form of payment. That bill is under review.

“By denying the ability to use cash as a payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and younger patrons that they are not welcome,” said D.C. Council member David Grosso told the Washington Post in 2018.

According to the most recent government survey, 6.5 percent of U.S. households in 2017 did not have a checking or savings account. In Washington D.C., 8 percent of people did not. 

In Maryland, 2.5 percent of residents did not have a checking or savings account, while in Virginia,  3 percent of people did not.

Most Americans still use cash regularly, according to a recent Pew study, however that number is consistently falling.  Roughly three-in-10 U.S. adults said they make no purchases using cash during a typical week, up to 29 percent from 24 percent in 2015.

Sweetgreen characterized the move back to cash as an “evolution” of their brand. 

“At sweetgreen, we’re out to democratize real food and we’re honored and humbled that, you, our customers, are helping us get there,” they wrote.