Jan 25, 2020

New York City fights the cashless future

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In yet another blow to the cashless revolution, New York City lawmakers passed legislation banning stores from going cash-free this past week.

What's happening: Several stores — including Amazon Go, Sweetgreen and Shake Shack — are leading an effort to do away with cash. But cities are fighting back, saying that stores that don't accept cash discriminate against millions of Americans, mostly the poor, elderly and immigrants, who don't use credit cards. New York follows Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Jersey and Massachusetts in banning cashless stores.

By the numbers: Around 30% of all U.S. business is still done in cash, not credit cards. And close to 14 million Americans are unbanked.

The big picture: As we've reported, there's a global race to speed up checkout, with companies betting that cash-free is the future of retail.

  • China is in the lead. Over the last two years or so, Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com have wholly eliminated cash in hundreds of stores.
  • American counterparts Amazon and Walmart are only starting to debut such technology in a few flagship locations, but they're running into cashless bans.

What to watch: Cashless stores, like Amazon Go, are adding cash as an option to comply with the bans in big cities. But paying with cash at these high-tech stores that are explicitly built to be cashless adds a lot of hiccups, as a Business Insider reporter discovered.

Go deeper: The West, dragged into the cashless society

Go deeper

The death of paper greeting cards

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Americans aren't really buying each other cards anymore.

The big picture: "U.S. sales of printed greeting cards, estimated at $4.5 billion in 2019, fell nearly 13% over the last five years, according to market research company IBISWorld," WSJ reports.

Starbucks, Apple shutter stores in China amid coronavirus crisis

Photo: An Apple employee wears a protective mask in an Apple Store showroom on Feb. 1 in Beijing, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Starbucks, Apple and McDonalds are among the American companies temporarily shuttering stores throughout China as the coronavirus affects thousands within the country.

The state of play: Apple announced Saturday that it is closing all 42 retail stores in China, as well as corporate offices and contact centers through Feb. 9, the Financial Times reports. The company said it hopes to reopen stores "as soon as possible."

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Health

Macy's to close 125 stores and cut 2,000 corporate jobs

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Macy's will close 125 department stores, one-fifth of the retailer's overall footprint, and ax about 2,000 corporate jobs over the next three years, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Department stores such as Macy's have struggled to keep up with e-commerce giants like Amazon, especially over the recent holiday season. Macy's and other department stores are still recovering from rocky end-of-year sales.