Bill to require retailers to accept cash and give store credit/gift card in lieu of change dies in committee

Legislation to require retail businesses to accept cash when offered by a consumer failed in committee in early March. The Alabama Retail Association thanks the members of the House Commerce and Small Business Committee for leaving it up to businesses to decide what payment methods to accept from customers.

HB205 By Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-Selma, and 23 co-sponsors, would have prohibited discriminating against a cash buyer by requiring the use of credit. The bill also would have required store credit or a gift card if a business doesn’t have the cash or coins available to make proper change.

The six members of the committee who voted against the legislation and with the Alabama Retail Association were Chairman Jim Carns, R-Vestavia Hills, Vice Chairperson Rhett Marques, R-Enterprise, Rep. Mark Shirey, R-Mobile, Rep. Troy Stubbs, R-Wetumpka and Rep. Ritchie Whorton, R-Owens Cross Roads.

Voting for the proposal were Rep. Adline Clarke, D-Mobile; Rep. Brock Colvin, R-Guntersville; and Rep. Phil Ensler, D-Montgomery.

There are various reasons retailers might have a credit-only policy, including safety for those such as food trucks and vendors who are susceptible to theft if they carry cash. Retailers also may have reasons to give preference to cash customers, such as avoiding steep credit card swipe fees on small-dollar purchases.

Small businesses should be free to choose how to serve their customers,” said Alabama Retail Association Vice President Alison Hosp. “Retailers are entitled to accept or reject any method of payment, and, accordingly, customers are entitled to choose whether or not to shop there.”

In 2021, when similar legislation was introduced, the Alabama Retail Association, the Alabama Grocers Association, the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, the Alabama chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and the Petroleum & Convenience Marketers of Alabama, all testified against it. That bill was carried over in committee and never resurfaced.

At that time, the nation was experiencing a coin circulation issue related to the coronavirus. Consumers stayed home and were not spending their loose change, plus drive-thru-only banking meant businesses couldn’t buy coins from the banks as they regularly do. That is no longer the case. Once COVID restrictions ended and virus cases declined, coins have circulated more freely.

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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