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    Retailers urged to make ‘Cash Friendly Pledge’

    Photo: iStock

    Consumer organisation Which? has launched a Cash Friendly Pledge, urging retailers to commit to continue to accept cash.

    The initiative is designed to ensure that millions of consumers who rely on cash are not excluded by the transition to digital payments.

    Several major retailers like Aldi, Asda, Co-op, John Lewis, LloydsPharmacy and Waitrose have all made the public commitment to keep accepting cash in their stores as part of the pledge.

    The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which has partnered with Which? on its Freedom to Pay access to cash campaign, has urged local stores to promote their acceptance of cash through the Cash Friendly Pledge.

    “Local shops operate in the heart of our communities and provide customers with access to their cash through ATMs and cashback,” commented James Lowman, ACS chief executive.

    “It has been over a year since the government outlined a commitment to legislate access to cash at the 2020 Budget and yet no action has been taken to protect the future of this important payment method. The government needs to take urgent action to ensure long-term access to cash for consumers and to provide businesses with support to enable them to continue offering this vital service.”

    Findings from ACS’ 2020 Local Shop Report demonstrate the vital role that local shops play in providing their communities with access to their cash, through cashback (68%), free-to-use ATMs (49%), pay-to-use ATMs (22%) and Post Offices (22%).

    In addition to the ACS, the Which? scheme has also been backed by leading retail associations such as the British Retail Consortium and the British Independent Retailers Association. The Federation of Small Businesses is also promoting the scheme to members that want to maintain access to cash for their customers.

    One of the small retailers already signed up to the pledge is the Lodge Cottage Farm Shop in Crockey Hill, York. Alison Owens, who owns the store, said: “As a small local business we think it’s important not to exclude anyone, and we would never refuse anyone trying to pay with cash.

    “A lot of our elderly customers rely on cash and people are often telling me that other stores will now only take card payments. We are a small farm shop that has served the local community for 10 years and will continue to accept cash for people buying our goods.”

    Which? said its research has found that 34 per cent of consumers reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced.

    “Our cash-friendly pledge will reassure consumers who rely on cash that they won’t be left behind as we make the transition to digital payments,” Anabel Hoult, Which? chief executive said.

    “We’re asking retailers to sign up to the pledge because the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the decline of cash usage – threatening the whole infrastructure that ensures millions of people who aren’t yet ready to make the switch to digital payments can access and spend their own money.

    “The government announced it would legislate to protect access to cash more than a year ago. Now it must set out when this will be introduced and explain its long-term plan to protect cash for as long as people need it.”

    Retailers can sign up to the Cash- Friendly Pledge here.

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