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Cash-only retailers alienating 45% of the population

Survey reveals biggest deterrents to shoppers

Americans are relying more and more on plastic to pay for their goods, with 45% of us saying we wouldn’t shop at a cash-only retailers, according to a recent survey.

If you own a store that considers cash king, you could be driving away some 107.3 million Americans who’d rather swipe or dip their credit cards.

Other unpopular in-store policies

“Cards not welcome” is a major deterrent for American shoppers. But it’s not the only policy pushing away potential clientele.

Does your business prohibit in-store returns? If so, you might want to say goodbye to repeat customers: Of those surveyed, 44% said it’d turn them off shopping at your store.

Another 39% said that inflexible return policies are a no-no, and 25% say a store accepting only credit cards would deter them from purchases.

Women more likely to walk away from cash-only retailers

Our survey reveals that women generally hold stores to high standards when considering where to shop. Cash-only businesses turn away 48% of women, compared with 43% of men who say they’d shop elsewhere.

Women appear slightly more progressive than men, however, when it comes to to card-only businesses — 24% say they’d be deterred, versus 26% of men.

When considering how a store deals with returns, women are 8% more likely than men — 43% of women compared with 40% of men — to walk away from a business that says no to in-store returns. Women are also 8% more likely to walk away due to an inflexible returns policy, with 43% of women saying they’d do so versus 35% of men.

Shopping deterrant Female Male
Cash only 48% 43%
Cash free (only card) 24% 26%
Inflexible return policy 43% 35%
No in-store returns 48% 40%
Other 7% 7%

Boomers clinging to cash

It may not surprise you that baby boomers are least likely of the generations to walk away from a shop with a cash-only policy. Only 34% of boomers say it’d be a deterrent.

Boomers are least likely to turn away from a business accepting only credit cards: Only 18% saying it’d be an issue.

Gen Y are most likely to walk away from a business accepting cash only, with more than half (54%) saying cash-only businesses are a no-go. However, 28% of Gen Y is likely to balk at a card-only business — the highest percentage among the generations.

Gen X settles between baby boomers and Gen Y on both issues. Of those surveyed, 41% of Gen Xers said they’d walk away from a cash-only business, and 26% said they’d be driven away by card-only retailers.

Shopping deterrant BB Gen X Gen Y
Cash only 34% 41% 54%
Cash free (only card) 18% 26% 28%
Inflexible return policy 41% 41% 37%
No in-store returns 56% 45% 37%
Other 10% 8% 5%

Cash-only okay with retirees

Cash-only options are most popular among the retired. Only 35% of retirees said they’d have an issue with a retailer that limits payments to cash. Interestingly, students at 53% are most likely to walk away from a cash-only business.

Those employed full time are twice as likely to walk away from a business accepting only cash (51%) than they are from a card-only business (25%).

Shopping deterrant Casual Full time Part time Retired Studying Unemployed
Cash only 42% 51% 45% 35% 53% 42%
Cash free (only card) 32% 25% 27% 17% 31% 29%
Inflexible return policy 30% 40% 37% 39% 48% 38%
No in-store returns 36% 40% 41% 54% 48% 46%
Other 18% 5% 7% 10% 6% 8%
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For all media inquiries, please contact:

Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


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