Vulnerable Brits who rely on real money to pay for goods ‘facing cash crisis’

Research by consumer watchdog Which? found one in five shoppers using notes and coins to buy items between April and July were told the store did not accept real money

Consumer watchdog Which? carried out the research

Brits are facing a ‘cash crisis’ as one in five shoppers have been refused service when paying with notes and coins.

Research by consumer watchdog Which? found those using the currency to buy items between April and July were told the store did not accept real money.

Of those, one in six had to walk away empty handed as they had no other means of coughing up.

Which? carried out two separate studies totalling 3,000 Brits and in the second survey it found cash was a no-no for groceries for 35% of shoppers while 31% reported a refusal at the tills when using “legal tender” to pay for a takeaway coffee or snacks.

It also found eight in 10 consumers believe businesses should accept cash rather than insist on card or contactless payments.

The watchdog has raised concerns that the nation’s most vulnerable who rely on cash are struggling to pay for essentials.

Concerns have been raised for people who rely on cash and not cards to pay


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It has now launched a Cash Friendly pledge urging businesses to sign up and ensure millions who rely on real money can carry on shopping.

The campaign is being backed by the Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of Business Industry and 200 firms have already joined.

Jonathan Jaffa, owner of DIY and hardware store York Supplies in Birmingham has signed up and said: “Not everyone has the capacity to shop digitally, nor the inclination, so cash is vital to the effective functioning of a localised economy like ours.

“The ones with no choice but to pay with cash feel we are supporting them as a part of the local community rather than dismissing them as an unimportant fringe of society.”

Which? is also calling on regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to track the level of cash refusals by stores, takeaways and services to better understand the scale of the problem and come up with a solution to make sure cash users are not left behind by the digital payment revolution.

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.

“We believe more businesses should commit to continuing to accept cash, helping customers for whom cash is a critical payment method.

“The government must press ahead with plans for legislation to protect cash and should make the FCA responsible for tracking cash acceptance levels.

“Encouraging cash usage also helps boost local economies since we know that those who take cash out are more likely to spend it locally.”

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