Cash use set to survive pandemic slump

Cash use set to survive pandemic slump


The rapid decline in the use of cash during the pandemic has eased as consumers return to their preferred method of paying for things, a report suggests.

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Many people were forced into trying alternative ways of spending owing to Covid restrictions, banking trade body UK Finance said.

But it added that their preferred method had not changed radically.

Cash use is still forecast to drop, accounting for 6% of payments by 2031.

"Rather than the UK becoming a cash-free society over the next decade, the UK will transition to an economy where cash is less important than it once was but remains valued and preferred by many," the report said.

Covid impact
The trend of the last decade has been the significant rise in the prevalence of card - and particularly contactless - payments. Debit or credit cards were used in 57% of all payments in the UK last year.

In comparison, the use of notes and coins has dropped from 55% of payments in 2011 to 15% last year.

During the pandemic, the number of payments made in total fell. In particular, cash use slumped during lockdowns and as retailers encouraged friction-free payments.

Now, the UK Finance report suggests that long-term trends will continue as if there has been no pandemic impact.

Budgets squeezed
Another factor in the use of cash is the rising cost of living.

Mr Buckle said cash became slightly more popular during the financial crisis at the start of the last decade but, like then, it had relatively little impact on the longer term decline.

The Post Office recently reported that its counters handled £801m in personal cash withdrawals in July, the most since records began five years ago.

It said customers' use of cash to budget and the popularity of staycations were behind the increase.