By: Natasha Bougourd on behalf of Cath Kidston
As a society, we’re close to being cashless. When was the last time you paid for something with cash? We’d bet it was a while ago.
Our adoption of cashless payment methods was already on the up but was accelerated by the pandemic as we looked to adopt more hygienic practices. Online shopping is now standard, further reducing our need for cash.
As a result of not needing to carry cash, we’ve seen online search interest in purses drop. Is this once-staple of our wardrobes going to become obsolete?
This article will explore our changing shopping habits and why the purse is still an essential accessory for us all.
Our changing shopping habits
Card and contactless payments have been growing in popularity for years, and a 2021 survey has shown that we don’t like paying with cash. A huge 98% of consumers prefer contactless payment methods thanks to their speed. Interestingly, 59% of consumers will only shop at stores they know accept contactless and card payments, and 43% will not complete a purchase if they got to the checkout and could only pay in cash.
While the percentage of online sales have declined since physical shops reopened in April 2021, they remain higher than pre-pandemic levels and show that many of us are still shopping online more. We saw a slight increase between August 2021 and September 2021, which suggests we could see online sales increase their share once again in the lead-up to Christmas.
In a world where we’re busier than ever and acutely aware of how germs spread, it’s not surprising that we’re opting for contact-free payments. The reduced need for cash could be the reason behind a dip in online interest in purses. Google Trends data shows that interest levels in purses have declined slightly in recent years, save for peaks around Christmas time. However, data for late September and early October shows that interest is on the rise again.
Figure 1: online interest in purses since 2011
Figure 2: online interest in purses in the past year
A new role for purses and wallets
We might not be carrying as much cash around anymore, but in its place, we’ve added more items than ever to our phone-purse-keys check before heading out. We have our vaccination cards to carry, a face mask for popping into the shops, and of course, our emergency stash of hand sanitiser.
Indeed, many of us still wear masks to the shops for the protection of people around us. Tucking one into a purse will ensure you don’t have to rush back to the car after getting to the shop door and realising you’ve forgotten it! If you prefer a larger purse and you’re looking to replace your old one, choosing a bigger style means you can fit in an emergency face mask – we’ve all accidentally left the house without one before!
You can also pop in a miniature hand sanitiser – look out for handy credit-card style hand sanitisers that can slip easily into a purse or wallet. No more rooting around the bottom of your bag for your mask and hand gel; just grab your purse and you’ll have everything you need!
Purses can also help with other precautions too. Stashing house and car keys in your purse is common, as many people use them as a catch-all for their essential small items. If you’d prefer to keep your main keys separate, why not put your spare keys in your purse? You know you’ll always have it on you in the case that you leave your main set at home.
A lot of people also keep notes in their purse for critical situations, like information on their emergency contacts. If something bad happens when you’re out, your loved ones can be reached. Speaking of loved ones, there’s always a place for treasured family photos in our purses!
Plus, while most retail stores now accept contactless and card payments, there may still be a need to carry cash from time to time. Some independent food retailers and parking areas may only accept cash, so it’s sensible to have a couple of coins or notes on you in case of an emergency.
That’s not all. Many of us will carry around forms of ID, like our driver’s licence, which still need a safe place. Equally, a lot of insurance and medical emergency cards still come in a physical format, so it’s important to have a place to store them.
Here are our top tips for choosing a purse or wallet in our (almost) cashless society.
Streamline your purse
If you’re confident you won’t need cash on your trip out, and you have a separate place for your keys and other essentials, why not take this opportunity to streamline your purse? If you’ve always used a large, foldover style, now might be the time to explore a card purse or slim pouch.
Small purses offer you the benefit of fitting into smaller bags and even pockets. You still have a dedicated place for your ID and essential cards, but you don’t have to carry around a larger bag that can accommodate it if you don’t need to – simply pop it in your small crossbody bag. Win-win!
Go for a statement purse
Is there anything more enjoyable than pulling out your favourite bright, fun purse when you make a payment or show off your ID? It’s easy to forget these little joys, especially as we’ve gone without them multiple times over the course of almost two years.
Purses can be a fashion statement, and they’re a great way to add some fun to your outfit without it being overwhelming. Whether you opt for a quirky animal print or a bold, bright pattern, the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing your purse.
A fun purse can be a great conversation starter, too – if you get one featuring your favourite childhood character, you could find some common ground with people!
Our move towards cashless payments was always on the rise, but the pandemic accelerated it. Some people have ditched their purses and wallets as a result of not needing cash, but there’s still a place for them in our modern, contact-free world. Plus, purses are one of the accessories that we can have the most fun with, and we certainly don’t want to lose that!