High Streets Initiative · 27 November 2017

One in three consumers give notes and coins just 25 years to survive

Great Britain Pound Currency
Around half of British shoppers would leave a shop if electronic payments were not available

A third of British consumers have given traditional notes and coins a lifespan of just 25 years, new survey findings have shown, as shoppers of all ages begin to avoid cash-only high street businesses.

After polling the opinions of over 1,600 UK consumers, business comparison site Expert Market found that at least a third of every age demographic believed cash would become obsolete in the next two-and-a-half decades.

Among the millennial group (aged 21 to 36 years old), cash is already rapidly decreasing in popularity. A third categorically avoided using cash altogether.

In fact, one in three millennials carry less than £5 in cash at any one time – making cash transactions near impossible. At 46 per cent, the group was most likely to avoid cash-only businesses.

The UK’s youngest consumers have become so adept at embracing mobile payment technology that 41 per cent prefer to pay friends back via apps than cash, while a quarter even admitted to throwing away loose change.

Meanwhile, a third of Britain’s Generation X (aged 37 to 52 years old) agreed that notes and coins would be replaced by card and mobile payments within 25 years. Over half said they had been unable to make an in-store purchase due to the absence of electronic payments.

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New Dragons' Den investors: Jenny Campbell (second left) and Tej Lalvani (second right) join the three remaining business leaders

 

Britain’s local currencies

These local initiatives have proved that alternatives to pound sterling can support small business owners and help protect local high streets.

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Even the Baby Boomer generation (aged 53 to 69) could see the end of cash in sight, with half also having encountered difficulties paying by card or mobile.

Among all three demographics, the most popular reason for embracing electronic payments was the added security it gave. Other factors for the move away from cash included the weight of notes and coins and general limitations.

Commenting on the findings, Lucy Crossfield, lead researcher for Expert Market said consumers had made their feelings clear – cash is already on the way out, and retailers failing to offer an alternative have started to forfeit sales.

“This survey clearly suggests that card payment options are essential for the modern market with the majority of people surveyed saying that cash only stores had prevented them from purchasing goods,” Crossfield said.

“This is a wake up call for cash only businesses to future proof their services.”

Cash-only retailers pay the price

Further research has confirmed that cash-only retailers are not only about to lose sales of up to £2bn this Christmas, but also risk losing loyal customers for good unless they invest in electronic payment methods immediately.

Paymentsense found that almost half would walk out of an independent café, restaurant or retailer if electronic payment methods were not available. More worryingly, one in four would never return to an outlet if it was cash only.

Past studies have shown that shoppers equate in-store technology with the type of convenience they find online, with hand-written receipts a further indicator of a business lagging behind expectations. Meanwhile, small business owners investing in payment technology have benefited from the raised payment ceiling of £30, and a majority of UK retailers have backed lifting the limit further to £50.

Deadline for spending old £10 notes announced (and how to spot a fake)

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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