High Streets Initiative · 18 August 2017

UK shoppers ready to avoid cash-only high street businesses

London, United Kingdom - April 30, 2016: Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey (located in railway arches, SE1, Rope Walk). Great artisan street food stalls and bars. Waffles stall
Half of millennial consumers were ready to stop using cash altogether

Cash-only high street businesses are at a growing danger of losing customers to competitors offering electronic payment methods, according to new research.

The survey, by payments firm First Data, took the views of 1,000 shoppers across the country to find almost six in ten would only visit shops offering alternatives to cash.

Meanwhile, almost all respondents said the convenience of contactless meant it was now their preferred payment method.

Small food and drink businesses, particularly street food stalls and pop-up vendors, were found to be most likely to deter customers with a cash-only offering.

The findings confirmed the wider step away from cash, as instant payments through smart phones and contactless cards become more accessible to shoppers.

A third of all in-store sales are now made using contactless, and recent findings from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) attributed the ease of use for low value transactions as well as a raised payment ceiling of £30 to its popularity.

A majority of UK retailers recently backed lifting the payment limit on contactless to £50.

The latest study uncovered further pain points for high street shoppers. When asked why cash-only businesses were deterring them, they cited lengthy cash point trips and the threat of thieves as key reasons. The rise of spend-tracking on smart phone apps was also found to put customers off carrying cash.

Millennial shoppers were most ruthless in where they chose to spend their money. Half of respondents in this demographic said they were ready to stop using cash altogether.

Commenting on the findings, Raj Sond, emphasised the importance of payment convenience to a “hassle-free” high street experience.

“With multiple shopping options on the high street and online it’s all too easy for potential customers to take their business elsewhere. Successful companies would be wise not to make assumptions about what their customers want.

“Historically, smaller retailers have been put off by the perceived cost of card acceptance, however when considering the banking time, cost and handling risk when it comes to dealing with cash, the cost of card acceptance is not the prohibiting factor it once was.

Past research has 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.

Sond added: “Payment is a crucial part of the customer journey and experience and cannot be ignored in the quest for growth and loyalty.”

We want to hear your views on the challenges facing UK high street retailers, so please take two minutes to complete our High Streets Initiative survey and make a difference.

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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