Don’t Kill Cash! Cash usage grows for the first time in a decade as Britons 'return to pre-pandemic habits'

Cash being used to pay for groceries

Cash usage has increased for the first time in a decade

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 07/12/2023

- 00:01

GB News launched its Don’t Kill Cash campaign earlier this year, urging the Government to introduce legislation to protect the status of cash as legal tender, amid more and more shops and eateries going “card only”

Cash usage has grown for the first time in a decade, a new report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows, in a huge boost for GB News’ Don’t Kill Cash campaign.

Coins and banknotes for nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of transactions across the UK in 2022, the BRC’s annual Payments Survey found.

Its report said: “This year’s Payments Survey shows an increase in cash usage for the first time in a decade, up from 15 per cent (in 2021) to just under 19 per cent of transactions (in 2022).

“Faced with rising living costs, cash was a useful tool for some people to manage their finances and track their day-to-day spending.”

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The increase also reflects a natural return to cash following the move to contactless during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.

The findings demonstrate the importance of giving customers payment choices, amid more and more shops, cafes, pubs and shops choosing only to accept card payments.

GB News launched its Don’t Kill Cash campaign earlier this year amid concern vulnerable people who rely on cash are increasingly being left behind.

It’s the first time since the BRC began its reports in 2013 that there has been a year-on-year increase in cash usage, the BRC said.

However, the recovery in cash use in retail is “fairly minimal”, the report noted, with “only a relatively small increase as a share of total sales by value, up from 8.2 per cent in 2021 to 11 per cent in 2022".

The report added: “It appears that whilst a small percentage of people have returned to pre-pandemic habits, for a large portion of the population, the pandemic has had a lasting impact on how much we transact in cash.”

Card payments were used for 76 per cent of transactions in 2022, with debit cards accounting for around four in five of these transactions.

Retailers spent £1.26billion on card processing fees in 2022, the BRC said.

The research also found alternative payment methods – including options such as buy now, pay later – increased in popularity last year, from two per cent of transactions in 2021 to five per cent in 2022.

Consumers made smaller but more frequent payments, the survey found.

The number of transactions increased from 17.2 billion in 2021 (47.2 million per day) to 19.6 billion in 2022 (53.7 million per day), while the average transaction value fell from £24.49 to £22.43.

Hannah Regan, payments policy adviser at the BRC said: “We are now seeing a return to many of the pre-pandemic trends in payments, including smaller but more frequent purchases, and a slight return of cash payments.”

Ron Delnevo, Payment Choice Alliance Chair, told GB News he was confident cash usage would continue to rise. He said: "Cash use will continue to increase, as more and more people realise how brilliant cash is for managing their spending - and, of course, it always works. Cash nevercrashes.”

“It's good to see BRC producing such research; the High Street banks tend to underestimate cash use, probably because they want to give the impression GB is rushing towards 'cashless', which it is not.”

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