To raise awareness of our client Handepay’s belief that independent and small businesses are missing out on millions of pounds of revenue by not taking card payments, Democracy staged a UK first in our own backyard of Chorlton, Manchester – the Cashless Street.

The traders of Beech Road agreed that as far as possible, they would go without notes or coins for one day and only take card payments to test just how ready we are for a cashless society – both businesses and the public.

This is a street of 30-plus independent businesses – cafes, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, a newsagent, a baker, clothes shops, gift shops, takeaways. A thriving, buzzing thoroughfare – but a street without a cash machine, so to keep customers spending, card payments are essential.

The story created a buzz with national print and online coverage in the build-up and on the day. Sky News reported live from the Cashless Street all day, interviewing business owners and shoppers about the experiment.


The results were impressive too, with traders reporting that business was up by an average of 22 per cent on the day as they processed an average of 28 per cent more card transactions. Footfall on the road was high thanks to the gorgeous weather and the media presence – leading to some establishments reporting double or even record sales for the day.

The Chorlton shoppers confirmed their love of plastic – 60 per cent of those surveyed said they had left a shop because they couldn’t pay by card, while 53 per cent said that they would shop local more often if they knew they could pay by card everywhere.

These shoppers use their plastic an average of 2.5 times each day and were only carrying an average of £19 in cash in their purses and wallets for a day out at the shops. However, just 43 per cent reckon that the UK is ready to become a totally cashless society.

In terms of getting the debate going, the Cashless Street was a roaring success. We never thought we’d banish cash completely, but we certainly wanted to spread the word that business owners need to do more to adapt to the way that their customers want to pay.