retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Bloomberg reports that when the Atlanta Falcons return to their home Mercedes-Benz Stadium this fall, there will be a change in operations that has nothing to do with the coaching staff, quarterback, or defensive line.

It’ll be at the stadium’s concession stands, which no longer will take cash.

The story notes that Mercedes-Benz Stadium has had “the lowest food-and-drink prices in the league,” as a way “to coax fans into buying more. Now it’s going cashless to help keep those prices low.”

The lower prices, the story says, seem to have worked: “Average spending per fan in 2017 increased 16 percent from a year earlier, and spending levels last year were in line with 2017, the company said. Along with going cashless, the stadium is also cutting prices on five of its top-selling items. Hot dogs will drop 50 cents to $1.50, and chips and salsa will drop from $3 to $2.50.”

However, there is some expectation that “the latest move may not sit well with fans who rely on cash. In 2017, almost 11 percent of Georgia households didn’t have bank accounts while 24 percent were considered ‘underbanked,’ that is they may have a savings or checking account but prefer cash transactions, according to the FDIC.”

The Falcons say that “to accommodate those patrons, the stadium will have about 10 machines where people can insert cash between $10 and $1,000 and get a prepaid Visa debit card, executives said.”

This is an interesting move. It seems to be part of a greater continuum of companies not taking cash - still legal tender, last I checked - but the way it is being positioned as a way to keep costs down is sort of fascinating. (Is processing cash really more expensive than transaction fees charged by credit card companies?)

I also have to wonder how many unbanked people can afford NFL tickets.

Still, as I say, it is an interesting move … and the reaction to it may be an Eye-Opener, informing decisions made by other businesses down the road.
KC's View: