The cashless society is here and shopping centre landlords and tenants are now bracing themselves for the next phase – the exit of ATMs from malls.
Although the concept might be daunting, less cash will pay off in the long run.
There will be advantages for shopping centres and also individual brands in terms of tracking spending and also identifying trends in real time.
For retailers, the opportunity in the digital era to track ‘big data’ will enable them to identify consumers’ needs and wants in real time – something that is more important than ever before.
Landlords, who cannot track sales made online, will at least be able to garner some data from tenants through the digital transactions and keep abreast of tenancy solvency.
According to Cameron Wakeham, the manager of retail leasing at Colliers International, the banks’ recent decision to eradicate ATM fees has been viewed by skeptics as nothing more than a public relations stunt as the use of ATMs gradually declines – most notably in retail precincts.
Mr Wakeham said it is common to see ATMs grouped together in shopping centres and retail precincts, with food retailers occasionally accepting ‘cash only’, but this is already starting to change.
Colliers International research has found that ATM withdrawals have been steadily on the decline for nearly a decade, falling by 28 per cent in both the number of ATM withdrawals and total amount withdrawn, from January 2009 to July 2017.
In a CommBank Retail Therapy Study, 75 per cent of respondents said they use credit/debit cards as their primary payment method when shopping/dining in stores and 50 per cent said they will avoid a business if they have to queue for payment.
“In Sydney, many centres and retail precincts are witnessing a major decline in the presence and value of ATMs, with rents for the machines increasing very minimally, or about 1 per cent, over the past 10 years, as the value of this asset slowly plummets,” Mr Wakeham said.
“Many banks and other independent ATM providers are choosing not to renew their leases within shopping centres and other retail precincts or using the move towards becoming cashless as a bargaining chip when renewing.”
Mr Wakeham said, for retailers, it means that over the next few years they will all need to start taking their money digitally.
“EFTPOS has always been an alternative option to cash – this service is on offer almost anywhere you go. But as we become more cashless, retailers will to need to upgrade their technology to accept alternative payments, including payWave, Apple Pay and even bitcoins – cash only just won’t cut it anymore,” Mr Wakeham said.
“There will be sacrifices to be made and costs incurred with going cashless; retailers must also be prepared to be totally transparent with their earnings [something that] can be avoided when accepting cash.”
But the positives, particularly for food retailers, is the hygiene aspect, as there will be no more handling dirty money. There is also less room for human error, and from a security standpoint, it presents a safer option than holding large amounts of cash on the premises.
Matt Hudson, national director and head of retail leasing at Cushman & Wakefield, said being cashless has opened the option for the additional omni-channel customer platforms for brands to utilise, ensuring robust resilience to online marketplaces.
“There will be efficiencies in store design with the removal of cash and the need for extensive security measures to protect it,” Mr Hudson said.
“Furthermore there will an opportunity for brands to focus on in-store experiences, and convenient POS experience. The removal of ATM blocks in food courts will make way for more seating and improved sight lines throughout the centre.”
Mr Hudson said PayPass charges, being a credit card surcharge, are likely to be absorbed by the retailer or passed on at the point of sale.
“New market entrants with merchant facilities like Google Square will increase their presence and the new cashless way of life will allow the building of loyalty programs through third party awards.”