Whole Foods Market to stop accepting personal checks in the southwest

Attention southwestern Whole Foods Market shoppers: don’t leave home without your credit or debit card, or cash.

The Austin, Texas-based organic grocer will no longer accept payments by personal check at stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas beginning Sept. 1.

Whole Foods has stopped taking checks in other markets in recent years, but the company declined to say if the southwest is one of its last to get the policy change.

While payment by check is on the decline, most of its competitors still accept checks.

“Most of our regions no longer accept personal checks, but the southwest is not the last one to make the transition,” said Lindsay Robison, Whole Foods spokeswoman.

“By accepting only electronic payments and cash, we will reduce wait times in line,” she said.

Two-thirds of noncash payments made in the U.S. were made by card in 2012, according to the 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study released in July.

The number of checks paid declined more than 50 percent since 2000, the report said.

More than 90 percent of the decline in total checks from 2009 to 2012 was from the reduction in checks for $500 or less, and 45 percent was from the reduction for $50 or less.

Those sound like amounts that would be typically paid for groceries.

This trend is happening in other retail categories. At the time, several specialty apparel stores had stopped accepting checks including Diesel, True Religion, Ed Hardy and Lululemon Athletica.

In 2009, Whole Foods was testing the no-check policy in California and Arizona. So was Gap, which phased out checks at its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy chains last year.

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