Brits have gone an average of 44 days without using cash as they ditch notes and coins for contactless payments during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey from Nationwide Building Society.
Of 2000 people polled by Nationwide, more than a quarter have gone two months or more without cash. Nearly a third admit they don’t even remember what they last bought with cash.
Meanwhile, the building society's customer data shows a 44% increase in tap-and-pay transactions since the week of 23 March, when Brits were asked to stay at home.
The trend away from cash looks set to outlast the outbreak, with half of survey respondents saying they will use notes and coins less in the future. More than a third of this group say this is because they are worried about using cash as a result of Covid-19, while 61% have started using other methods.
When it comes to gender, some 68% of women have reduced their use of cash since lockdown, compared to 56% of men. Three quarters of those aged 55 and over have decreased cash usage compared to just 48% of people aged 16-24 and 57% of those aged between 35 and 44.
This is line with a separate survey of just over 2000 Brits for Hitachi Capital which found that two thirds of over 55s feel more comfortable in using cashless payments since lockdown began.
Meanwhile, over half of those living rurally now feel prepared for the transition to a cashless society, with seven out of 10 more comfortable using alternative methods since the lockdown began.
There have been concerns that the elderly and people in rural communities could struggle with the move away from cash.
Consumer group Which? has repeatedly warned that a cashless society could leave the vulnerable behind, while just last month MPs from across the House of Commons called on the Chancellor to act now to protect the UK cash infrastructure from imminent collapse, as people shun ATMs due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Mark Nalder, head, payments, Nationwide, says: “As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, it is evident the pandemic could have a lasting impact on how people pay for things. Far from heralding the death of cash, a shift towards mobile payments and online and mobile banking will help people keep track of their spending and better manage their money.
"Although we don’t expect cash to return to pre Covid-19 levels, it is highly likely cash usage will increase post-lockdown as the high street begins to reopen, even if that means the use of card payments - via contactless, phone or another device - rise in tandem."