The US Moves to Ban Cashless Stores, With Amazon Go Set to Suffer

April Davis By April Davis | 26 Mar 2019

New Jersey, Philadelphia and now San Francisco are all banding together to stop retailers like Amazon operating cashierless stores.

While Amazon is in the midst of a nationwide expansion, with an extra 3,000 Amazon Go stores in the works, cities across the country are looking at adding the retailer to a list of outlawed store concepts.

According to a report on CNBC, San Francisco is looking at a proposal that could ban cashless stores such as Amazon Go. This makes the city the third location to enact a plan against retailers branching into a cash-free store experience.

Major US markets are rising up against the growing prevalence of cashless stores in their states/cities, with Philadelphia’s Mayor signing a bill to ban the new retail format. New Jersey’s Governor is following suit, with both locations looking to implement these bans by July 1. This decision seems to have started a new trend in the region, as New York City is also reportedly considering the ban, while a council member in Washington DC is currently calling for cashless restaurants to be outlawed.

Interestingly, these areas aren’t the first to introduce restrictions of this nature. In 1978, Massachusetts introduced new laws, forcing retailers to accept cash as a valid payment method.

Officials arguing for the ban claim that cashless stores discriminate against low-income shoppers who might not have sufficient funds to maintain a debit account or are unable to attain a credit card. Retailers, on the other hand, say that cash-free is the way of the future as it reduces theft and prevents tax evasion.

Initially, Amazon Go, which is a cashierless store, wasn’t part of the proposed ban since the company doesn’t have staff members handling cash on the premises. The legislative proposal, however, has since been expanded to include the e-commerce giant, which could put a damper on the brand’s plans to open as many as 3,000 new outlets across the country.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Amazon requested an exemption from the proposed laws in Philadelphia. While the city is reportedly looking at a workaround that would allow stores with membership models like Costco to be exempt from the ban, it seems unlikely Amazon Go will be looked on as favourably, as shoppers do not need to be Prime members to shop at the cashierless supermarket chain.

San Franciso, on the other hand, has explicitly named Amazon Go in its ban, which could impact the global behemoth’s two stores in the area and proposed new store openings.

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