Tesco launch first cashless store – is this the END of cash on UK high streets?

Tesco launched the cashless shop in High Holborn, London – the first of its kind for the supermarket giant. Customers can pay using contactless cards and Apple Pay at self-service tills.


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The move is part of a wider trend of a decline in the use of cash by UK shoppers. UK Finance, the industry body, has predicted only nine percent of payments will be made using cash by 2028 – a shocking 60 percent drop from 2008.

Some fear losing the ability to pay by cash will alienate vulnerable consumers such as the elderly or those trying to manage debt.

Natalie Ceeney, who chaired an independent review of consumer cash access in 2019, said an end of cash payments could “seriously impact the lives of many people, particularly the more vulnerable”.

Focused on office workers and tourists in the fast-paced central London area, there are no such fears as yet in Tesco’s futuristic new store.

They said: “We’re pleased to be opening this cashless store to help customers to check out and pay quickly.”

The supermarket chose the location for this trial specifically because of its high concentration of office workers. It said it would look at feedback before deciding whether to roll out cash free shops elsewhere.

Tesco made the bold opening after previously revealing some of its convenience stores in the UK were already receiving as few as 20 percent of payments in cash.

Bank of England data showed debit cards overtook cash as the most frequently used form of payment back in 2017 – and forecast card payments will only increase as more and more shops accept cash alternatives.

Tesco are not the first to try out cash free stores worldwide – Amazon have been trialling the concept with grocery shops since 2018.

Their offering, Amazon Go, uses cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove and put back on to shelves.

Customers are then billed as they leave the store using credit card details held on file.

Sainsbury’s also opened a till-free store in April 2019, with shoppers paying via their SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app.


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However, those who want to pay in cash or by card could still head to the helpdesk.

Tesco annouced a big reshuffle of their bakery counters this week which could result in 1800 job losses.

The supermarket announced yesterday 1,816 jobs were at risk of redundancy in restructuring plans.

They said bakeries at the UK chain’s larger stores would be affected from May. 

Tesco said it will convert 58 of its bakeries to be able to finish off pre-baked products in-store. They said 201 sites will only bake some of its most popular items from scratch.

It said the move, which will also see bakeries at another 257 sites remain unchanged, means it will need fewer staff members.

Jason Tarry, Tesco’s UK and ROI chief executive, said: “We need to adapt to changing customer demand and tastes for bakery products so that we continue to offer customers a market-leading bakery range in store.

“We know this will be very difficult for colleagues who are impacted, and our priority is to support them through this process. We hope that many will choose to stay with us in alternative roles.”

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