Canadian paper bills in 5 10 and 20 dollars
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The number of Canadians who use cash to pay for goods has nosedived since the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a Payments Canada survey.

The survey found that 62% of respondents were using less cash five weeks into the pandemic than they were before Covid-19 resulted in widespread lockdowns. A similar proportion of respondents (61%) said they were using ATMs less frequently.

Respondents who pay for goods using cheques were less inclined to change their ways — only 40% said they had cut back on their usage of cheques.

The decreases in traditional spending habits could be partly explained by the fact that many respondents had less money to spend. Forty-four per cent reported a decrease in income during the pandemic, and 51% said their retirement savings and other investments had taken a hit.

More than half (53%) of respondents said they were using card or mobile tap payments for in-store purchases more frequently. Forty-two per cent said they avoid shopping at places that don’t offer contactless payments, and 38% said they had increased their use of e-commerce platforms.

“While we have seen a continued shift towards digital payments over a number of years in Canada, there’s no doubt that the prevailing pandemic has accelerated this shift — and will likely act as a catalyst in transforming the Canadian payment landscape forever,” Tracey Black, president and CEO of Payments Canada, said in a release.

The results were based on a Leger/ACS survey conducted between April 17 and April 19 that polled 1,504 respondents aged 18 and older. Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.