Is the future of Woolworths cashless?

Woolworths says it has no plans for all its stores to have cashless registers only, but acknowledges use of cash is falling in some areas.

According to news.com.au, Woolworths’ Metro division Managing Director Steve Greentree said city shoppers are “ambivalent to cash”, which is why the new Metro Pitt St store in Sydney’s CBD has just three registers that take cash.

“They just don’t use it,” he said. “Every other self-service is card only, so it’s tap and go or Apple pay. They’re just much more efficient.”

It’s a sign of the times. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the percentage of cash payments has fallen from 69 per cent in 2007 to 37 per cent in 2016. Another study has suggested physical cash could be a thing of the past in Australia by 2026.

So why have consumers fallen out of love with the hard stuff?

Finder.com.au’s money expert Bessie Hasan says the culprit is technology.

“Many people simply tap and go with their debit or credit card nowadays,” Ms Hasan said. “With the introduction of Apple Pay and Google Pay, even that’s a bit ‘old school’ for some.

“These new payment methods have led to fewer people carrying cash with them.

“In the past, Aussies would come armed to group dinners with a wad of cash so they could pay for their portion of the bill. Nowadays, it can all be done electronically thanks to mobile and online banking.”

Asked if he could imagine a day when Woolworths would have a completely cashless store, Mr Greentree told news.com.au: “I don’t think it’s too far off.

“We’ll probably always have one or two (manned check-outs). But with each store, we’re taking another (cash) machine out.”

Nevertheless, Woolworths says it’s fully committed to giving customers a range of payment options, including cash.

“While Metro and smaller-format stores will always have a greater percentage of self-serve options due to the nature of customers wanting to get in and out of the store quickly, there will always be the option to pay using cash in our stores as customers like the choice,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Retail World.

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