Skip to main content

Cash Transactions Still Strong in Grocery: Cardtronics


Grocery shoppers may prefer to pay for their purchases with cards, but they still show a strong loyalty to cash at the register.

In its 2016 "U.S. Health of Cash Study," Cardtronics, a Houston-based manager of self-service financial kiosks, noted that despite the preference for cards, 43 percent of consumers have used cash at grocery stores over the past six months.

While data showed little difference between men and women in terms of cash usage – with 44 percent of men and 42 percent of women doing so – it did show that, surprisingly, Millennials are more likely than older generations to rely on physical currency when buying groceries. Some 48 percent of Millennials reported paying with cash in the channel, compared with 43 percent of Gen Xers and 37 percent of Baby Boomers.

Additionally, cash appeared to get more attention among urban consumers than it did among suburban or even rural ones. Some 48 percent of urban consumers use it to purchase groceries, compared with 39 percent of suburban and 43 percent of rural consumers.

The higher adoption rate of cash by younger, urban consumers than by their older, less-urban counterparts could be related to this demographic’s tendency to shop for groceries more often than others – and to make smaller transactions when doing so. Some 80 percent of consumers agreed that they use cash for smaller purchases and other forms of payment for larger ones, with 72 percent using cash for purchases of less than $10 and 54 percent doing so for transactions below $20.

But the fact that cash continued to see strong use by consumers of various demographics is a probably indicator that consumers have concerns about the safety of electronic transactions. With data breaches routinely in the headlines, 83 percent of consumers have concerns about data security and privacy, while 93 percent believe cash can keep them safe from hackers. Meanwhile, only 44 percent think credit or debit cards are safe, while about half (49 percent) think a mobile wallet is safe. When asked what single form of payment is safe to use, 59 percent named cash, while 16 percent, 14 percent and 11 percent said credit cards, debit cards and digital payments, respectively.

“With 79 percent of consumers claiming that they can’t imagine a world without cash, the ‘new norm’ is not a cashless society, but rather one in which consumers will continue to demand a wide variety of payment options, and cash will continue to play a role in how consumers choose to pay,” Cardtronics said.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds