Cash, cards and phones all used to meet Christmas consumer demand

By : Colin Gordon

December 18, 2015 04:00 PM

If you want to consider what the omni-channel experience for consumers looks like, just cast your eyes over how people shop this Christmas.


According to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, US consumers will spend an average of $805.65 on food, decorations, gifts and other festive treats. Figures from Bankrate indicate that this is being spread across all channels - cash, debit cards, credit cards, prepaid cards, checks and mobile payments, bought in a variety of locations, be it online or in the local shopping mall.


Interestingly, there seems to be a major interplay between channels occurring as shoppers switch between mobile, online and traditional physical channels. Here is an example - consumers will often check prices in store, then pay online. They’re also ordering via smartphone and then picking up in-store - perhaps paying in cash or with a prepaid card. That in itself is a great example of omni-channel and it’s certainly no longer a straight fight between online and bricks-and-mortar stores. Like everyday consumer banking, both work well combined as part of an overall solution.


NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says, “In an effort to attract all shoppers – from the extremely price sensitive to the online millennial, retailers will be offering exclusive incentives, low prices, price-matching, top toys and everyone’s favorite - free shipping and buy online pick up in store offers.”


Clearly, mobile and online plays a bigger part than ever before, but cash and the humble ATM are far from redundant. In fact, based on figures from a study conducted by Bankrate and Princeton Survey Research Associates International, there is a huge demand for cash at this time of year.


The survey found that still, 40% of shoppers plan on paying for their holiday purchases cash only. If the average spend is in excess of $800, it gives us some indication of how important the ATM - as the dispenser of cash - remains in the payments mix.


For more evidence we can look to the UK, where cash demand really increases over the holidays. Last year ATM replenishment increased by almost ten percent on just one day on “Black Friday.”


G4S said last year it replenished 16,000 ATMs in the week before Christmas Day – about 2,600 more than any other week during the year. And according to the firm, the “flow of cash” across the UK is around 20 percent higher in December than November and up about 50 percent in January and February.


Retail spending habits indicate that people are using many more ways to shop than ever before. Cash and in-store purchases are still a key part of the mix, but like modern consumer banking it is the combination of a variety of devices such as mobile, the ATM or branch used together or indeed on their own that are now key for consumers.

Colin Gordon

Financial Services SelfServ, Marketing Manager

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Colin Gordon is a Global ATM Marketing Manager based at NCR’s R&D Center in Dundee, Scotland. Colin is responsible for the marketing of NCR’s financial hardware portfolio with a specific focus on activities such as demand generation, sales enablement, market analysis and customer engagements for the ATM business.