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Use of Cash for Shopping Increases for the First Time in a Decade

Use of Cash for Shopping Increases for the First Time in a Decade

Use of cash for shopping has increased for the first time in ten years as consumers become more budget-conscious amid rising prices, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Last year, 19% of purchases were made with cash, a slight uptick from the past year, reflecting a slight cash rebound also noted by banks.

The BRC's findings coincide with the financial regulator's upcoming consultation on a proposal to improve cash access. The government has warned that penalties will be imposed on banks that fail to provide cash withdrawal and deposit services.

Urban residents should find these services within a one-mile radius, while the limit extends to three miles in rural areas to prevent "cash deserts."

Retailers report that while card payments remain predominant, cash was used in 19% of transactions last year, up from 15%. Even with the trend toward digital payments, cash presents certain advantages, such as helping consumers manage their budget during cost-of-living increases. BRC highlights that while cash use has recovered somewhat post-pandemic, the high fees associated with card payments for retailers remain a concern.

UK Finance observed a similar boost in cash usage and attributed it to economical strain from rising costs. Despite this increase, they predict a decline in cash usage in the upcoming years as the economic crunch subsides.

While there is a noted trend towards less frequent use of cash, with nearly 22 million people hardly using it, about five million UK residents still depend on cash for daily transactions.

This underscores the ongoing need for cash access, even as banks and ATMs close. Recent bank closures, such as the last bank in Richmond, North Yorkshire, have called attention to the necessity of maintaining financial services.

The government is determined to preserve free cash access, despite the anticipated decrease in cash use. Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority is weighing in on how to uphold this policy effectively.

The new guidelines would ensure that alternate services are available before any ATM or bank branch closure. A current voluntary agreement maintains that every High Street should offer free cash access within a kilometer.
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