Canadian grocers Sobeys and Loblaw are to join the growing list of Canadian retailers that no longer accept cheques as a method of payment at some of their stores.

At the end of the month Loblaw will stop accepting cheques at its 72 Ontario stores, while as of 3 February cheques will no longer be accepted at Sobeys stores in Atlantic Canada.

In 1997, 7% of shoppers paid for goods with a cheque, but by 2001 that figure had fallen to just 2%, according to the Interac Association, which oversees Canada’s direct debit payment system. The popularity of debit cards is seen as the main reason why use of cheques has declined.

Loblaw and Sobeys will join retailers including Wal-Mart and Sears Canada which ceased accepting personal cheques in the past five years, reported the Canadian Press.