We know from the recently published Scottish Local Shop Report that at least 80% of customers in convenience stores pay by cash. This statistic shows how important a c-store is in providing a community facility which enables local people to buy goods and services in cash and so circumvent the need for a bank account, a cheque book, a debit or credit card.
There’s a big issue here about financial inclusion - and underscores the importance of c-stores to communities.
We know the cost pressures facing retailers and might be able to do something about them most effectively by showing that by damaging c-stores, these cost pressures will damage communities.
If customers can no longer get access to bill and utility payment services in cash, or if constantly-increasing bank charges push retailers toward card and contactless payments, or if a shop goes out of business because of constantly increasing costs, then a large section of the community will experience real financial exclusion. This will have a significant affect on local authorities, housing associations and a whole range of other local services.
Most of the high street banks across the UK are implementing a programme of branch closures which, at a stroke, will reduce customers’ ability to pay bills in cash. Additionally, the banks are keen to cut the cost of running the Link network which will put the future of free cash machines in doubt.
Retailers should not be financially disadvantaged for providing cash services to customers. Communities need our stores and we have begun talking to the major banks about protecting the services our members offer.