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How much do we value cash on the UK high street?

In recent years there has been a marked increase in the number of Britain’s large banks that are retreating from the high street. More than 500 bank branches were closed last year, with figures suggesting a further 650 will disappear in 2015.


This move away from in-branch banking and the increasing availability of other banking technology has coincided with a decrease in access to cash on the high street.

Populus conducted a survey of over 4,000 UK consumers and 250 SME retailers, on behalf of cash machine provider Cardtronics UK, to discover how both groups feel towards this evolution of the high street and the value they place on ready access to cash.

According to the research, the lack of branch-based banking services and lack of access to cash is putting small businesses such as newsagents and convenience stores under pressure. In fact, nearly one-third of all small retailers have reported that customers have gone elsewhere in order to shop and bank at the same time, resulting in a loss in profits.

Commercial Director of Cardtronics UK, Tim Halford warns that these retailers need support if the high street is to remain “the UK’s prime local retail hub”.

The survey shows that around half of turnover (46%) at high street retailers is generated through cash payments, with 53% of consumers saying their payment habits have not changed despite the availability of new payment technologies.

In many ways the research supports the countless reports about the death of the high street that have featured in the UK media in recent years. Other key findings include:

    • On average, local ATMs inject £16.30 per withdrawal directly into the tills of stores in the vicinity, amounting to £36bn a year – more than a third of total high street spend

    • As many as 11.7m shoppers would abandon their local high street if they weren’t able to withdraw money and shop at the same time

    • 30% of affected retailers observe a decline in shoppers, and 24% observe a decline in profits as a consequence of reduced access to cash on the high street

For more in-depth analysis of attitudes towards the high street and the challenges faced by many of the UK’s small retailers, visit the Cardtronics website to read the full whitepaper The Value of Cash on the UK High Street.

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