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Cashless outrage targets popular retailer Lorna Jane: ‘Lost a customer’

Lorna Jane said the move followed “a number of issues impacting team safety”.

Lorna Jane has been cashless for nearly two years and has no plans of going back. But pro-cash advocates have only recently caught wind of the change and are threatening a boycott.

One customer spotted a sign saying ‘We are cashless’ at one of the activewear brand's stores and said the business had “lost a customer” because of the move. Hundreds more have since voiced their concerns online, with many saying they will no longer shop at the store.

RMIT associate professor of finance Dr Angel Zhong told Yahoo Finance pro-cash advocates were now taking a “stronger stance” against businesses going cashless and said many had “valid concerns” that needed to be addressed.

Lorna Jane cashless
Lorna Jane has become a cashless business, causing some customers to threaten a boycott. (Source: Lorna Jane/Facebook)

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Why is Lorna Jane cashless?

Lorna Jane has nearly 100 stores across Australia that are now cashless for security reasons.

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“Lorna Jane became a cashless business in August 2022, ensuring no cash is held on our premises, to support the safety of our team instore after a number of issues impacting team safety,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance. “Our customers, in large, have embraced this well.”

It’s not the only Aussie business to go cashless for this reason. A number of McDonald’s restaurants in Melbourne’s east and south have advised customers that cashless payments are preferred due to recent security incidents.

On a smaller scale, businesses like Annee's Caphê Sua Da in North Queensland have gone cashless after being targetted by thieves.

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Zhong said cash payments did present security risks for businesses and noted that it took small businesses 29 days on average to handle, count and bank their cash each year.

“It takes time to process cash and there’s also the risk that cash is easily stolen. When it comes to cashless payment, it is easily traceable and it is subject to a lower risk of loss than cash,” Zhong said.

Businesses do not legally have to accept cash and are free to choose which payment methods they accept. However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Watchdog notes they should be “clear and upfront” about the types of payments they accept and the total price payable.

Do boycott threats help the pro-cash cause?

Boycott threats show that Australia's transition to a cashless society won’t always be smooth, Zhong said.

“A lot of [pro-cash consumers] are worried about privacy concerns and accessibility concerns - these are all valid concerns,” Zhong said.

“That shows that we are not transiting to a cashless society overnight - we can’t, given these valid concerns. It is very essential to address these concerns and to ensure that we protect all groups in the community.”

Zhong estimates that Australia will transition to a “functionally cashless” society by 2030 as more consumers opt for card over cash payments. She has stressed this doesn’t mean that cash will be gone completely or will lose its value.

Recent Reserve bank data found the share of consumer payments made using cash plunged from 70 per cent in 2007 to just 13 per cent in 2022.

Zhong said businesses like Lorna Jane had a right to go cashless. But by the same token, consumers also had the right to choose not to shop there.

“This transition is essentially driven by consumer preference,” Zhong said. “So if pro-cash consumers keep using cash and can jump up the demand of cash then perhaps they can slow down the transition.”

It comes after pro-cash advocates staged a “protest” against the country going cashless, with people flocking to banks and ATMs to withdraw cash.

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