Supermarkets are encouraging customers to avoid making cash payments in an effort to curb the spread of new Covid-19 variants across the UK.
Major brands, including Asda and Sainsbury’s, have issued an update on payment methods, with most stores now asking for card transactions only.
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The news comes after a Which? report found a third of shoppers have had cash payments rejected since the pandemic broke out last year.
A total of 34 per cent said they had been refused at least once, with supermarkets accounting for a quarter of such incidents.
However, recent research from the Bank of England has suggested that the risk of catching coronavirus from banknotes is low, and “brief interactions” with cash are unlikely to spread the disease.
While cash is often described as ‘legal tender’, there is no legal obligation for a business to accept it, and it is the owner’s right to decide what payment methods they choose to allow.
The UK government has now set out proposals to protect the future of the UK’s cash system, which would see cashback offered at local shops of all sizes, without the need for customers to purchase anything.
Proposals also include plans to give the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) overall responsibility for the UK’s retail cash system, ensuring people can have easy access to cash when they need it.
Here are the latest rules across the UK’s major supermarkets in regard to cash and card payments.
Asda is encouraging contactless shopping using its scan and go machines across all of its stores, in a bid to speed up transactions and reduce customer and staff contact.
The brand has rolled out ‘Scan and Go’ mobile to all of its supermarkets, superstores and supercentres, allowing shoppers to use their own device to scan their shopping and pack as they go.
Contactless payments now have a payment limit of £45.
Sainsbury’s has said that customers who choose to pay by cash should use the self-checkouts, so as to avoid any exchanges at the tills.
A spokesperson for the store said: “We would like customers to pay by card. If you would like to pay by cash, please use our self-service tills.
"SmartShop is available in Sainsbury’s supermarkets and helps you spend less time in store and reduces contact by letting you scan your own shopping and check out through a dedicated till area."
Tesco does not have any rules on refusing cash payments, but said it is focused on “ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment”.
The supermarket has various safety measures in place in stores, including screens and mandatory face masks, based on the latest government guidance.
Morrisons has not introduced a ban on cash payments, but all digital orders must be paid for at the online checkout.
For online shopping, the supermarket said: “We can’t accept cash or cheques, so all payments must be made by card.”
Alid is encouraging shoppers to pay for items using contactless card payments in all stores where possible, although cash payments will not be refused.
Lidl has not announced any specific rules on cash payments, meaning shoppers will be able to pay by cash if needed.