A fifth of shoppers refused cash payments

One-in-five consumers have been blocked from paying with cash since lockdown rules were eased, according to research from Which?, sparking concern that people who rely on cash could struggle to spend it.

Which? carried out two separate surveys to get the views of more than 3,000 people in total and gauge their experience of trying to pay with cash.

The first survey was conducted over the phone to include consumers who may be less digitally capable and therefore potentially more dependent on cash. The second survey was online.

In the phone survey of 1,000 people, one-in-five (18 per cent) reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something from April to July this year, during which time Coronavirus restrictions were lifted for non-essential shops.

Of those who experienced cash refusal, one-in-six (16 per cent) were then unable to pay for an item.

In the separate online survey of 2,000 consumers, respondents were most likely to be unable to pay in cash when shopping for groceries, which accounted for a third (35 per cent) of incidents.

This was followed by small purchases in shops and buying refreshments whilst out and about such as getting a takeaway coffee (both 31 per cent).

The refusal figures come despite around eight-in-10 (84 per cent) consumers thinking businesses and shops should continue to accept cash.

Which? is encouraging firms to sign up to its Cash Friendly pledge, an initiative designed to ensure that millions of consumers who use cash regularly are not excluded by the transition to digital payments.

The Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of Business Industry are supporting the Which? pledge, and the consumer champion is particularly welcoming sign-ups from small and independent businesses to provide reassurance to their local customers and to “sustain the recovery of high streets across the UK”.

Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: “Cash is still a vital way to pay for millions of consumers, so it’s very concerning to see many people still reporting difficulties when trying to spend their notes and coins, even as the country moves out of lockdown restrictions.

“Over 200 businesses have signed up to Which?’s Cash Friendly pledge and we believe more businesses should commit to continuing to accept cash, helping customers for whom cash is a critical payment method.”

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