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Shopping Trends and the Effect on Cash Management

Brink's Employee

20 Apr 2020

Shopping Trends and the Effect on Cash Management

The demand for cash remains resilient today. Many people find this fact surprising, especially in the face of increased competition with alternative payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and electronic payment apps such as Venmo and PayPal. However, the 2019 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice conducted by the Federal Reserve highlights the way in which cash is still used, and even preferred, by a wide-range of individuals across various age and household incomes.

This report concludes that cash accounts for 26 percent of all transactions, as well as 49 percent of payments under $10. Consumers also typically prefer cash for in-person payments, with 35 percent of participants using cash for these transactions. This report also found that consumers who prefer other payment methods still like to have cash on-hand as back-up payment in case their preferred method is unavailable. While electronic payment methods may seem modern and convenient for most purchases, there are many instances in which cash continues to be the most reliable payment method for small-value and in-person transactions.


This high usage of cash along with the continued growth of electronic and mobile commerce are changing how customers shop, as well as their payment habits. Despite the increase in paperless and online transactions, cash continues to dominate in-person retail purchases.

The study cited above also determined two main reasons that cash is the dominant payment method for in-person transactions.

Reason #1

Opportunities to use cash are often limited as primarily in-person transactions. With this, consumers are more likely to use cash for transactions made at brick-and-mortar stores, vending machines, parking meters, and taxis versus online purchases and bill payments.

Reason #2

Since most consumer payments are for small-value transactions, cash is the preferred method for low-value purchases. The referenced survey conducted by the Federal Reserve noted that the average cash transaction was approximately $22, and that cash is most often used on payments less than $25. The value of payment appears to influence whether a customer chooses to use cash, debit, credit, or another form of payment.

However, these trends are not new to retailers and merchants, and this frequent use of cash poses an expensive and time-consuming burden of manually managing their funds.


The strong demand and use for cash is forcing retailers, banks, and armored carriers to explore new methods for automating their operations.

Because cash handling is a manual and labor intensive process, retailers are often forced to spend time on counting cash, balancing drawers, and depositing funds at the bank. Not only are these tasks pulling employees away from day-to-day operations and serving customers, but they are also exposing both employees and the store to danger.

Manually managing cash can increase the risk of shrinkage, internal theft, and human error. Fortunately, the cash management industry has introduced smart safe technology and digital solutions to eliminate many of these challenges.


With businesses looking to streamline the transaction process, the development of smart safes is a timely. By automating the process of cash handling, this technology benefits businesses by saving time and money, as well as providing customers with better quality service.

The compact design of most smart safes allows for optimal placement at the point of sale, allowing employees to immediately insert cash into the safe so that it can validate or reject counterfeit bills. Depositing money immediately after the transaction also reduces exposure in the business. By limiting the number of people who are counting and handling the cash, a smart safe can significantly reduce the risk of internal theft and shrinkage.

Additionally, these safes enable retailers to consolidate several days of deposits in order to reduce the number of trips to the bank. While the funds are secured in the safe, the deposit data is wirelessly communicated to the bank, providing access to real-time reporting and facilitating access to daily credit.

Retailers using smart safes eliminate the need for employees to make dangerous trips to the bank for deposits or change orders. In streamlining their operations, they also reduce labor costs, as time spent on manually delivering cash is reallocated back to running the business or assisting customers. Implementing a smart safe not only improves the security of employees and profits, but it also provides greater visibility into cash balances.

The need and use for cash is not going away anytime soon. The Federal Reserve reported there was approximately $1.79 trillion in circulation as of December 2019. While cash continues to play a key role in consumer spending, retailers fortunately have options to improve their cash management process while increasing the security of their employees, their store, and their bottom line.

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