The Future of the High Street – Where Cash Is No Longer King

by Guy Moreve 0

Set of Colorful Cash with wings swiftly fly over a blue globe

Last week it was announced that spring sent a cold chill through the UK high street, with sales declining by around 1.2 percent compared to the previous month – presumably due to the effects of inflation.[1]

With e-commerce on the rise, inflation is not the only reason for the plummeting sales. Retail must reinvent itself and make use of the latest technology in order to provide an attractive consumer experience. A big focus for stores like H&M is thus to connect their on- and offline presence to reply to consumer’s convenience and to avoid shoppers fallout during colder periods like we witness this season, with the ‘Beast from the East’ sweeping through the high-street.

But what does the future of brick-and-mortar look like?

To further understand consumer spending habits and opinion, Paymentsense conducted a study of 2,000 UK residents to reveal their spending opinions and analysed data to see which cities in the UK are the ones in which cash is no longer king and thus most likely to turn completely cashless in only a few years’ time.

We at Paymentsense found out that businesses could lose out on custom if they refuse to adapt to the contactless revolution, as 30% people in the UK would go to another shop if the vendor didn’t accept card payments. 80% of Brits even said that card transactions, including contactless, were their favourite form of payment. However, 46% claimed to be concerned about the security of card transactions. This stresses the importance of card transactions if a business is going to be able to survive today’s market.

Overall in the UK, contactless transactions make up over 42% of all our transactions, which proves that we’re slowly turning into a cashless society. More and more areas of the UK are adapting to this new development, whereas others that haven’t made it into the list still need to improve and adapt to consumer preferences.

As a result, carrying cash becomes more and more an afterthought in many people’s lives – and they struggle when it comes to everyday, cash-only services such as car parks and taxis. Therefore, businesses have to adapt to this new phenomenon and go with the time.

These are the top cities for overall card transactions

City Sum of Transactions


LONDON 59,498,327
BIRMINGHAM 10,000,609
BRISTOL 8,297,118
BRIGHTON 6,775,089
MANCHESTER 5,449,368
SHEFFIELD 4,765,407
EDINBURGH 4,140,689
PORTSMOUTH 3,712,439
LEEDS 3,655,217
OXFORD 3,450,293


Accounting for more than 42% of all transactions, the study also shows that contactless payments are becoming increasingly more popular – forecasts even expect they will make up more than one in four payments by 2026. This led us at Paymentsense to look at which industries were the ones with the highest percentage of contactless card payments.


Top 20 industries for contactless card transactions

Merchant Type Sum of Contactless Transactions Sum of all Card Transactions Contactless Rate
BAKERIES 6,395,254 8,876,300 72.05%
FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS 12,695,781 21,794,147 58.25%
DRINKING PLACES 14,852,424 25,762,223 57.65%
DRUG STORES & PHARMACIES 2,904,586 5,317,927 54.62%
EATING PLACES & RESTAURANTS 59,206,613 108,822,552 54.41%
NEWS DEALERS & NEWSSTANDS 672,925 1,298,455 51.83%
CATERERS 422,240 833,993 50.63%
PACKAGE STORES – BEER, WINE & LIQUOR 1,272,863 2,534,830 50.21%
GIFT, CARD, NOVELTY 1,922,428 4,401,842 43.67%
CIGAR STORES AND STANDS 1,051,247 2,484,530 42.31%
HEALTH & BEAUTH SPAS 39.55% 166,300 420,485
BOOK STORES 38.55% 242,308 628,554
DRY CLEANERS 33.36% 282,390 846,478
MENS & WOMEN S CLOTHING STORES 32.59% 958,799 2,942,252
PET SHOPS, PET FOODS & SUPPLY STORES 31.09% 758,320 2,438,778
SCHOOLS & EDUCATIONAL SVCS 28.49% 64,005 224,654
HOTELS, MOTELS, & RESORTS 22.88% 616,359 2,693,454


However, it’s not just the bakeries, bars, and fast food establishments which need to embrace contactless. Even if businesses haven’t made it into one of the ‘Top 20’ categories, they’re losing potential sales by not taking contactless payments. It is thus important to implement contactless in order to go with the time and to reply to their costumers’ needs.

The study shows that contactless transactions seem to be more popular among younger spenders, as 41% Brits aged 18-24 said it was their favorite form of payment compared to just under 10% of people aged 55+. This suggests that even though many are worried about security, increasing numbers are using this form of payment.

And there is still potential to implement more opportunities for contactless card payments: Almost half of the Brits surveyed said they would like car parks to accept card payments. This was closely followed by public transport (42%) and taxis (40%). Businesses could lose out on custom if they refuse to adapt to the contactless revolution, as 30% people in the UK would go to another shop if the vendor didn’t accept card payments.

This shows how important it is for retail to think about their customer’s convenience in terms of card payments, to the point it could even affect brick-and-mortars profit.

You can find our study here:

This article was written by Guy Moreve, Head of Marketing at Paymentsense


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