A Review of the Latest Cash Trends in Retail


As we evaluate cash trends in retail, we find the following metrics provide valuable insight into what the retail market is facing and how cash continues to provide challenges to operational expense. 

Cash is Still King

  • Consumers use cash for half of all of their transactions valued at less than $50, and they choose to use cash more frequently than any other payment instrument, including debit or credit cards.
  • US currency is used widely as a trusted store of value, with over $1 trillion in circulation globally.
  • Cash makes up the single largest share of consumer transaction activity at 40%, followed by debit cards at 25%, and credit cards at 17%. Electronic methods (online banking bill pay and bank account number payments) account for 7%, while checks make up 7%.
  • Cash is used quite often, but primarily for low value transactions. In fact, the average value of a cash transaction is only $21, compared with $168 for checks and $44 for debit cards.
  • Debit cards are the most preferred payment type at 43.4%, but those who prefer cards still use cash frequently at 35.8% of debit card users and 31.1% of credit card users.


Cash Crosses Product Categories, Age and Income Levels

  • Younger people prefer debit, but use cash more intensively at 40% in the 18-24 yr. old group.
  • Cash is either the most used or second most used payment instrument across a wide array of spending categories, and consumers in low, middle and high income categories all make an average of 23 cash transactions a month.
  • Food and personal care supplies make up 60% of all cash transactions, with entertainment and transportation, general merchandise, and auto and vehicle related expenditures collectively accounting for an additional 26% of cash transactions.


Counting Cash Creates Costs for Retailers

  • 51% of retailers still count cash by hand
  • The cost of labor and cash-in-transit charges, plus theft risk, account for 98% of the costs associated with the processing of cash.

Based on these findings, cash is still very much a part of the retail payment landscape and the need for retailers to automate cash handling is critical. If you need to re-think your cash management strategy, contact QDS or visit our Retail page.

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