Despite a gradual decline in cash usage, notes and coins remain the UK’s most commonly used buying tool and accounted for more than half of all payments last year, according to data from the Payments Council.
The figures show that 19.9bn cash payments, worth £260bn, were made in the UK during 2013 and represented 52% of all payments. Although down on 2012, when 20.8bn payments worth £267bn were made, cash usage has held up relatively well over the past five years with annual totals around the 20-21bn level since 2009.
Earlier this month the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a 14% decline in the use of cash in the last five years as UK consumers switched to cards. The figures were further supported by the UK Cards Association, which reported that spending on plastic has more than doubled over the last decade, exceeding £0.5 trillion in 2013.
Automated teller machines (ATM) remain the most popular method for British consumers to access their cash. At the end of 2013, there was a record total of 67,963 ATMs with consumers withdrawing an average of £66 per visit.
David Hensley, the Payment Council’s head of cash services, commented: “Despite speculation on declining cash use the reality is that the majority of our everyday purchases are still made in cash, particularly for low value items. Clearly customers need and want cash as much as ever.”
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