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Some retail sectors refuse cash payments too often


Published: 16 February 2023

Cash betalen in een winkel

What is the state of cash acceptance in shops and by other retailers in the Netherlands? DNB monitors developments annually. Below is an update.

The extent to which retailers still accept cash as a means of payment varies widely by retail sector. While on average 4% of retailers put up PIN-only notices to indicate they do not accept cash, this is significantly higher in a number of specific retail sectors, such as cinemas (22%), car parks (16%) and pharmacies (12%), our survey shows. This means the cash acceptance rate in these retail sectors is too low.q

Cash is an important means of payment

For cash to remain in widespread use, it is important that retailers continue to accept cash as legal tender. After all, making payments should be easy for everyone. Moreover, many consumers find it important to have a choice to pay cash. Retail representatives have therefore pledged in the 2022 Cash Covenant  to ensure their members continue to accept cash. We monitor developments annually. To this end, we commissioned research firm Locatus to visit more than 4,300 shops and other retail outlets throughout the Netherlands in late 2022 to take an inventory of payment notices on signs and stickers. 

More than 4% of retailers inform their customers: “We don’t accept cash!”

In shops, consumers are increasingly opting to pay with their debit card or smartphone. Through promotional materials, 3 in 10 retailers encourage customers to do so. An average of 1 in 24 retailers (over 4%) clearly let customers know they do not accept cash. Figures are significantly above this average in a number of retail sectors, however. For example, 1 in 8 pharmacies surveyed no longer accept cash. The entertainment, cinema, library and car park sectors also have high PIN-only rates (see Figure 1). By contrast, consumers can still pay cash at every single market stall surveyed. None of the 930 market stalls had put up a PIN-only notice.  

Figure 1 - Top 5 retail sectors with PIN-only shops

Top 5 retail sectors with PIN-only shops

Regional differences

There are also differences between provinces in terms of PIN-only shops. In Flevoland and Utrecht, more retailers let their customers know that they do not accept cash than in the rest of the country (see Figure 2). In addition, retailers in the bigger cities are more likely to refuse cash. At more than 6%, PIN-only shops are most likely to be found in cities with a population of more than 175,000. Shops in small towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants are least likely to put up PIN-only notices (2%). In addition, shops in retail areas are more likely to pursue a PIN-only policy (5%) than retailers in more peripheral areas (3%). 

Figure 2 - Share of PIN-only shops by province

Share of PIN-only shops by province

Communication about accepted payment method should be clearer 

Most retailers (70%) do not indicate with stickers or signs how customers can pay for their purchases (see Figure 3). Here, consumers should be able to count on having a choice how to pay – electronically or in cash. Of the retailers who do make this clear (30%), 14% put up a PIN-only notice. In addition, almost half (49%) communicate less clearly, for example by posting a sign or a sticker saying “Pay by PIN” or “PIN”. This may cause confusion as to whether the retailer still accepts cash payments. Moreover, if this is in fact not the case, the actual cash acceptance rate would be even lower. 

Figure 3 - Payment notices on signs and stickers at shops

Payment notices on signs and stickers at shops

It is important that retailers who refuse cash make this clear beforehand by displaying a sticker or sign at the shop entrance. In the 2022 Cash Covenant, retail representatives call on their members to abide by this practice. Nevertheless, 1 in 3 PIN-only shops still fail to do so. They do not inform their customers that cash is not an option until the moment of payment.

Infographic Acceptatie van contant geld in winkels 2022 (Dutch only)

Download Infographic Acceptatie van contant geld in winkels 2022 (Dutch only)

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