HIGH street chains going cashless are causing headaches for struggling people desperate to budget more.
La Poste this week reported a 20% increase in the number of customers withdrawing banknotes from its branches compared to last year.
A spokesperson said: “We are seeing more and more people relying more and more on cash as a proven way to manage a budget.
“Our latest figures clearly show that Britain is anything but a cashless society.”
We went to three cities and found that some of the biggest chains – including the Pizza Hut, Prezzo and Cote breweries – have gone cashless.
Of the seven places visited in London, six would not take notes or coins.
Here’s what we found in the capital, Birmingham and Newcastle.
London – 86% did not accept cash
OUR first stop in London was pizza and pasta favourite, Prezzo, in Islington, where signs immediately said it was card only.
The whole chain became cashless when reopening post Covid.
Staff told us the decision was initially a ‘health and safety thing’, but people often ask if they can use the cash.
At nearby Pizza Hut, we were told that all of its restaurants were no longer taking money either.
The Shoreditch branch of sushi chain Itsu is also cashless, like the rest of its stores nationwide.
An employee told us that a customer was so enraged that he yelled at them, “It’s illegal to refuse my money”.
The Pret A Manger cafe chain in Shoreditch used to be a place that accepted cash – although some of its 300 other London restaurants no longer do.
Croydon’s Korean-Japanese restaurant Kokoro stopped taking money after the pandemic.
But Tajamal Hussain, owner of a Majic Corn cash-only sweetcorn stall in the city, said: “I’m probably losing 45% of customers because they can’t pay by card.”
Harvey Woolgar, manager of The Butchery in Spitalfields Market, which only accepts cards, was happy to get rid of the cash.
He said: “It’s safer, easier and saves us having to go to the bank all the time.”
Martin Foster runs The Indians Next Door, selling Indian snacks nearby. It has also become cashless.
He said: ‘We are using contactless for security reasons with staff.
Birmingham – 50% did not accept cash
FOR most of the last 150 years Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade has been full of spendthrift shoppers.
But change is in the air.
James Morris, 29, who runs Morridge, a card-only coffee and porridge shop, said: “It’s more convenient for our accounting software, we don’t have to pay for the money to be delivered, making payments over the phone is much more efficient, and we don’t have to spend 15 minutes collecting cash at the end of the day.
In a similar vein, Ashley Johnson, 23, at Miss Macaroon, which sells sweet treats, said it was a matter of hygiene when serving and packaging goods for customers.
At nearby bakery Bread Collection, assistant Jurate Senauaitiene agreed, saying, “We’ve always only taken cards rather than cash because of the hygiene factor.”
But Adrian Gale, of Gupshup specialty sandwich cafe in Colmore Row, said cash and card purchases were still what customers expected.
He added: ‘Given the difficulties faced by businesses during the lockdown, I would have thought everyone would just be happy to take money in any way they could.
Daisy Nyamie, 36, of The Hat Shop at Great Western, said it’s mostly tourists who like cash after exchanging currency.
Tara Gahir, 53, of Mr Simms Confectionery at Great Western, said: ‘I don’t understand traders saying no to cash. You need to make your money any way you can these days.
Newcastle – 43% did not accept cash
In Newcastle, the number of note-taking places still outweighed cashless but fair shops and restaurants.
When our reporter entered the Japanese restaurant chain Yo! Sushi and asked to pay for a drink in cash, they told him that was not possible and there was no cash on site.
A few stores down, the fast food chains McDonald’s and Burger King offered the option of paying cash at the checkout.
But McDonald’s installed many remote order screens that only accept cards and only had one cash register open.
When asked if they accepted cash at the Côté brasserie, an employee replied: “We don’t accept any, I’m sorry. It’s a company-wide policy. We do not keep cash on site.
None of the restaurant’s 500 branches accept cash now.
Local bakery Cake Stories refused to accept cash.
Declan Tinsley, Jesmond’s boutique general manager, said: “It’s easier to follow the money and there’s less room for human error.”
In the coffee chain Caffe Nero, cash was accepted.
A branch in Canterbury, Kent, angered some locals last year by going cashless, but this has yet to be rolled out nationwide.
Our money was also accepted in KFC, as it would be accepted in over 800 fast food outlets across the country.
A staff member said: ‘It’s about giving people options.
The law states that stores are not required to accept cash
MOST people think it’s their right to use cash to pay for goods in stores. But the reality is that this is not the case.
Even though our pennies and pounds are often considered legal tender, it is actually the right of the business owner to decide which payment methods they wish to accept.
After an online petition was launched to ban shops from refusing cash, the government confirmed in April that it was not planning to mandate cash acceptance.
Cash transactions remain important for millions of people, especially the vulnerable and the elderly, but it is the choice of individual businesses.
As we move closer and closer to a cashless society, I am concerned for the elderly and the most vulnerable, as many rely on cash to make their budget and it is easy to overspend when you are using a card.
With so many people still depending on or wanting to use notes and coins, it really makes sense that businesses would continue to accept them.