M&S consigns cheques to history

One of the staple tools of freelancers – the cheque - is one step closer to extinction after a major retailer declared it will no longer accept them as payment.

Marks & Spencer reportedly said customers will have to use cards and cash when it officially stops accepting paper-based payment on March 1, 2008.

Not only does the retailer expect the move to reduce fraud in its stores, but it should also improve customer flow, as it said cheques slow people down at the checkout.

Some experts believe the decision from such a respected high street name as Marks & Spencer signals the end of the cheque, particularly on the high street.

Prof Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University Management School, told the Daily Telegraph: “With such an iconic traditional business doing this, it could well be the death of the cheque.”

Already retailers including Argos, Boots, Sainsbury’s and Next have stopped accepting cheques, which they claim account for less than one per cent of transactions.

Age Concern has condemned the move by M&S, saying many older people prefer to manage their expenditure through the use of a chequebook where the amount they spend is jotted down.

The anticipated death of cheques comes in the same week that one retail analyst warned that the days of the traditional computer shop are also numbered

In his review for Credit Suisse, Tony Shiret said the “British Stupid Bloke” way of buying PCs – bundled with software, peripherals and insurance - is on the way out.

His reported comments come after DSG International, owner of PC World, said sales of computers in the run-up to Christmas were “very disappointing.”

The group’s latest trading statement shows that like-for-like sales at PC World sunk 10% after low demand, with laptops and PC accessories proving the hardest to shift.

Earlier this month, the group said it would no longer be ordering analogue televisions and will, once existing units are sold, only sell digital televisions.

The group’s stores, which include Currys and Dixons.co.uk, said the decision to consign analogue TV to history was for “practical and environmental purposes.”


30th January 2008

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