Death of the purse as shoppers ditch cash for card and phone payments

Purses are becoming a thing of the past, as shoppers switch to card payments, and shun traditional wallets. 

Consumers are also relying more on mobiles to pay for their day-to-day purchases, and have turned to sticky card holders that attach to the back of phone cases. 

Just 14pc of payments in the UK were made using cash in 2022, as banks shut branches and ATMs close.

Kamalyn Kaur, a psychotherapist, said she had stopped using cash during the pandemic and hadn’t bought a new purse for 15 years.

“I started after Covid as a way of limiting contact when making purchases. It was so much easier to tap rather than handle money. Now it has just become a habit,” she said. 

Rachel Conlisk, 49, said it’s easier to pay using her phone.

She said: “I just use my phone for paying for things now. It is easier to just carry one thing, I don’t have to carry a bag or risk my card slipping out of a pocket unnoticed, and I can leave home unencumbered with just the essentials.”

Retailers said that customers wanted more practical bags with features including zips, but were turning their noses up at traditional wallets and purses.

Jackie Hay, of luxury purse maker Radley London, said customers’ habits were changing to become more practical.

“We are seeing them investing in new styles and shapes that offer them practical solutions – something that is at the heart of all our designs,” the brand manager said. 

“Some of our smaller handbags have card slits incorporated and increasingly popular styles include our ‘phone’ crossbody, the small zip around card holder and our trifold wallets.”

Ms Hay said while the brand sells small coin purses, they often come with a key ring and are used for decoration, rather than for carrying cash. 

Larissa Stange, a buying manager at high-end department store Liberty, said there was no longer much demand for zipped wallets. 

She said: “We are also selling ‘wallets on chains’ from various brands but these are often just used as micro bags to fit all of one’s essentials for a night out.

“All that said, for wallets, card holders are most definitely much more in demand.”

The Covid pandemic sped up the transition to cards and mobile phone payments, due to concerns about virus transmission on coins and notes.

The number of cash payments annually dropped from more than 20bn in 2012 to 5bn in 2023. In 2022, nearly 60pc of all payments were made using cards, according to industry body UK Finance. 

Statistically, older and vulnerable consumers are more likely to still rely on cash payments. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak committed to better cash access measures in August, promising that every individual will live within an hour’s walk of an ATM, post office or bank branch.


The county with only one bank branch left (and even that’s closing down)

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