by Arun Venugopal, July 9, 2022

“New York’s two-year-old law requiring local businesses to accept cash is seeing a new test, this time from the fast-delivery groceries that flooded neighborhoods in the pandemic age, city officials say.

The ban against cashless businesses was instituted in 2020 to counter restaurants and “fast casual” establishments like Sweetgreen, which lawmakers said at the time discriminated against low-income consumers, who are less likely to have a credit card or bank account.

Increasingly, however, elected officials are turning their attention to a wave of fast-delivery groceries and mini-warehouses operations. A spring survey by Councilmember Gale Brewer’s office showed the vast majority – better than 8 in 10 – don’t accept cash, even though some also function like traditional groceries.

Brewer said the city is failing to regulate this growing industry, one that is backed by venture capital and has been hyped in national media as the future of post-pandemic commerce. She complains the businesses, sometimes referred to as “dark stores,” flout other city laws, such as pricing-display rules, governing the commercial sector.

“There is no proactive inspection,” said Brewer, taking aim at the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. “That makes me livid.”

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