Households return to cash to overcome the cost of living crisis

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Two-thirds of households used an ATM this summer as the cost-of-living crisis drove shoppers back to notes and coins to help with budgeting.

Free ATMs are in rapid decline and businesses increasingly refuse to accept notes and coins, despite growing consumer demand.

Two in three consumers have used an ATM this summer, according to an analysis of 146,000 shoppers by money app Snoop. The typical shopper used an ATM five times between May and July this year, withdrawing an average of £60.

Separate research by the Post showed that in a single week in mid-August its customers withdrew £183million in cash, up 18% from the previous year.

The strong demand for cash contradicts banks’ predictions that contactless spending will make notes and coins obsolete over the next decade.

Scott Mowbray of Snoop said easy access to cash was “vital” to help households manage their day-to-day budget.

“Some of our customers only really feel in control of their finances when they can see, touch and spend physical money,” he said.

“With prices rising as rapidly as they are now, and with so many people deeply worried about how they will cope financially, being able to get real money matters more than ever.”

But shoppers are struggling to access cash and spend notes and coins. Nearly 70% of free ATMs are about to close or start charging fees as rising costs hit operators.

The abandonment of cash has been exacerbated by a decade of mass bank closures across the country, which has also made it harder for retailers to deposit or access banknotes and coins and further pushing to refuse cash altogether as payment method.

Many shoppers have been unable to purchase essentials, dine out or travel due to businesses avoiding cash.

A 73-year-old woman was left without food or drink all day at a racetrack because it only accepted card payments, while other readers warned against independent restaurants and chain restaurants across the country refusing cash without warning.

Another lady nearly had a night out when her debit card malfunctioned and the hotel she had booked in Bradford refused to accept cash. A stranger eventually stepped in and offered to pay on her card for her money, but she went without dinner due to the hotel’s cashless rules.

A third of those dependent on cash are over 65, putting the most vulnerable in society at risk of overspending and isolation when retailers refuse physical currency.

This newspaper campaigned to stop the decline of banknotes and coins through its Keep Cash campaign. Prime Minister Liz Truss pledged during her leadership campaign to protect the public’s right to use cash, suggesting it was ‘important’ that businesses don’t just accept card payments .

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