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The entrance to Amazon Go's Battery Street store in San Francisco. At the New York store, customers wanting to pay cash can be scanned in through the turnstiles.

Amazon Go makes New York City premiere

Downtown Manhattan store is banner’s first to accept cash

Amazon.com Inc. has opened its 12th Amazon Go store, marking a couple of firsts for the innovative retail format: it’s the first in New York City, and the first to accept cash.

The 1,300-square-foot store, which opened Tuesday, is located in downtown Manhattan across from One World Trade Center on the second level of the upscale Brookfield Place mall, which houses a mix of fashionable shops, food vendors and restaurants.

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One of the four Amazon Go stores in Seattle.

Like the other Amazon Go locations, the Manhattan store offers a selection of beverages and ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options made by Amazon’s kitchen team and favorite local kitchens and bakeries. Also sold at the store are chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, which the company said have all the ingredients for making a meal for two in about 30 minutes, plus an assortment of grocery staples ranging from bread and milk to artisan cheeses and chocolates.

Local vendors featured at the store, situated at 200 Vesey St., include Dominique Ansel, Magnolia Bakery, Ess-a-Bagel, Epicured, Bien Cuit, Hale & Hearty and Terranova Bakery. Hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

And like other Amazon Go outlets, the new store has no regular cashier. But customers here are able to pay in cash. To do so, they need to ask an associate to scan them into the store and then, after shopping, go to the checkout cart to pay with cash and get a receipt.

Amazon Go stores are known for their “Just Walk Out” technology. Shoppers use the Amazon Go mobile app to gain entry to the store through a turnstile. Overhead cameras, weight sensors and deep learning technology detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and keep track of the items selected in a virtual cart. When customers are ready to leave, the Just Walk Out technology debits their Amazon account for the items they take and then sends a receipt to the app.

Last month, media reports had surfaced saying that Amazon was planning to add cash as a payment option at the Amazon Go stores. Cashless retail formats lately have received rising criticism for discriminating against unbanked or underbanked consumers, who prefer to pay in cash. That has led some municipalities — including Philadelphia, New Jersey and possibly soon San Francisco — to enact bans against cashless stores.

Aside from a 450-square-foot, employee-only location inside Seattle’s Macy’s building, the Manhattan Amazon Go store is on the smaller side for the format, whose sizes range from 1,200 square feet to 2,400 square feet. Amazon Go’s other locations are in San Francisco (three), Seattle (four) and Chicago (four).

Industry observers say Amazon Go is shaping up to become a major business for Amazon as it works to expand its physical retail footprint. An RBC Capital Markets analysis released in January estimated average annual sales of $1.5 million apiece for the then nine Amazon Go stores. Based on a Bloomberg report last September saying that Amazon may open up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021, RBC’s estimate would translate into a $4.5 billion business for the Go banner within a few years.

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