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Less than 10% of people are ready to make the move to a cashless society

Press release   •   Sep 29, 2018 01:00 BST

  • Cash remains an important part of everyday life around the country, with 95% using cash at various times to fund their spending on everyday essentials
  • On average, over £1.3bn held in the nation’s wallets on a daily basis
  • Choice is key; majority of the population mix their usage of card, cash and other forms of payments
  • Nine in 10 (91%) see cash continuing to play an important part in their lives over the next 12 months
  • Access to cash remains important within local economies, with cash still being one of the most commonly (59%) accepted methods of payment amongst micro traders

Cash looks set to remain an important part of everyday life for much of the UK – both now and in the future, according to new research from Post Office exploring both consumer and micro trader views on the Future of Cash1. The study revealed that people of all ages continue to rely upon cash to make essential purchases and fund everyday spending, with nine in 10 (91%) wanting to retain the choice offered by different payments rather than moving to a cashless society in the immediate future.

The research suggests that more than half (53%) of the country rely upon cash as regularly as they do card (51%). Convenience is key, with a quarter (25%) preferring to have a choice in how they make different payments.

However, behaviour and approach to money management also plays a part, with 23% saying they feel more in control of their outgoings by making physical payments rather than using card or online methods. Nearly a quarter (23%) say they simply feel more comfortable using cash – with this true of both younger age groups (16-24 years old, 22%) and those who are older (those aged 55 and over, 30%)

Cash also provides much needed peace of mind for those with concerns about security of other forms of payment (10%), with 14% agreeing they feel more protected from the risks surrounding fraud.

Commenting on the research, Martin Kearsley, Director of Banking Services at Post Office said: “Despite the increased use and popularity of digital payments, our research highlights that the debate on the future of cash should not be about one form of payment replacing the other, but instead looking at how consumers balance their use of different methods alongside one another.

“People of all ages, and in communities across the UK, continue to rely upon the flexibility cash offers alongside other form of payments. With 95% using cash at various times to fund their spending on everyday essentials, it is vital that people have continued access to cash and choice in how and when they use it.”

“Invisible” cash moments

Despite emergence of new digital methods of payment and the rise of card usage, the UK still carries an average of £26 in their wallet each day.

Cash is used in a variety of situations to fund everything from car park payments (41%) through to paying children pocket money (27%). A third (34%) use this form of payment to cover essentials such as food shopping, while for others this supports their discretionary spending on nights out (30%) and clothes (17%).

Top 10 situations where cash is used % of respondents
Paying for a car park 41%
Food shop 34%
Nights out 30%
Pocket money 27%
Transport 26%
Local events 24%
Payment for a service (e.g. window cleaner) 23%
Restaurants 21%
Charitable giving/sponsorship 21%
Leisure activities 20%

Despite 40% of the country carrying cash daily, there are still some occasions when people find themselves “caught short” and without an alternative payment method – with a third (36%) doing this on average each week. The majority (63%) remain undeterred and would rather seek out a cash machine than go without (12%).

Cash in the community

While the study highlights the frequency with which many people are still using cash personally, it also highlights their recognition of the role it plays supporting local economies, communities and different groups within society.

Just under a third (30%) say that small businesses remain dependent upon access to cash, and 26% do not think their community has the infrastructure in place to go completely cashless, with those in suburban (30%) and rural areas (28%) equally concerned. A quarter (26%) worry about the impact of a cashless society upon more vulnerable groups and small business, and 16% would like to see more done to raise awareness of the availability of cash services for those who need them.

This sentiment is echoed by many small businesses themselves, with the study exploring the experiences of more than 1,000 micro traders from across a range of sectors and regions. The findings revealed these smallest businesses handle an average of £731 a week in cash, with this remaining one of their most commonly (59%) accepted methods of payment.

One of the main reasons for micro business’ continued acceptance of cash is in response to customer demand. A third (31%) do not ever expect to disregard cash payments completely, and 59% do not expect to make this change in the near future. This reluctance to move to a cashless business model is largely driven by customers’ behaviour; more than half (54%) of those who do not expect to go cashless within the next 18 months say this is because their customers want to pay in cash.

Martin Kearsley concluded: “Many do not realise how much we still use cash until we find ourselves without access to it. This may often be for more discretionary items or services, such as paying for a round at the pub or for parking, but for others this is about supporting them in their preferred payment for everyday essentials.

“Consumers and businesses we’ve spoken to have told us that they want choice and flexibility in how they manage their money and make payments – whether cash, card, mobile or online. In light of continued bank branch closures and reductions in the ATM network, a lot of people are concerned about where to access cash conveniently and safely. Their local Post Office is the answer – providing access to their existing bank account for everyday services such as cash withdrawals and deposits, supporting communities all around the country with these essential cash services."


1 The figures are sourced from a nationally representative survey conducted by Censuswide. Research with a sample of 2,024 online interviews with UK adults, from 17th August to 20th August 2018, and research of 1,095 micro traders (businesses with between 0-9 employees) from around the country

Full regional figures are available upon request

For more information, please contact:

Emma Brown

Post Office Press Office

Tel: 0207 012 3456

Twitter @postofficenews

Notes to Editors:

With over 11,500 branches, and 2,500 ATMS Post Office is the UK’s largest fee free cash withdrawal network, with more branches than all the banks combined and branches available in communities where banks no longer exist.

This ensures that customers can access everyday banking services across our entire network of around 11,500 Post Office branches, even in the most remote communities in the UK. This includes cash withdrawals, cash and cheque deposits, balance enquiries and change giving.

Further details of Post Office’s banking services are included below:

  • 6,000 of our branches are in rural communities, meaning that we provide access to vital services even in those more remote places.
  • Almost 93% of people live within a mile of their local post office, and 99.7% live within three miles - this provides vital access to banking services.
  • 1 in 5 people use a Post Office to withdraw cash (Citizens Advice – Consumer use of Post Offices report, July 2017).
  • Through our modernisation programme, our branches are open for longer. Over 4000 are open 7 days a week, and thousands more are open from earlier in the morning until later in the evening.
  • 99% of all the UK’s consumer banking customers (all high street banks), and 95 per cent of small business banking customers can access everyday banking services through every single Post Office branch.
  • The Post Office handles a total of around 125m banking transactions a year. The number ofbanking transactions completed in our branches has risen by50% since 2014.
  • Within that 125m transactions, about 25m are business deposits – our fastest growing service, showing a definite trend of business owners depositing their cash into business bank accounts via the Post Office.
  • About Post Office:

    • With 11,500 branches, the Post Office is among the larger retail networks in the UK.
    • 97% of Post Office branches are run with retail partners on an agency or franchise basis.
    • The Post Office provides services central to peoples’ everyday lives; 99.7% of the population lives within 3 miles of a Post Office.
    • We offer the UK’s largest fee free cash withdrawal network through our 11,500 branches and an additional 2,500 cash machines and 99 per cent of UK bank customers can access their accounts at the Post Office.
    • We sell 170 different products and services spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards; Government services; telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.
    • Post Offices branches remain highly valued and trusted, and are the focal point of many communities. For more information; visit and to find out about a Post Office business opportunities; visit