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21% of Brits don’t want to spend a penny

25 September 2015
  • 68% of Brits don’t spend or carry around copper coins;
  • Over a fifth of people would be happy to see 1p and 2p coins removed from circulation;
  • 18% of 18 to 24 year olds never spend copper coins (5% for all adults)

According to new research* released today, 21% of Brits would be happy to see the penny and 2p coins scrapped - leaving the 5p coin the lowest denomination in the UK.  

The survey of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by Gocompare.com, revealed that most (68%) people empty their purses and pockets of copper coins rather than spending them or carrying them around.  Only 32% said they make a deliberate effort to use small coins to pay for items, while 24% use coppers in their everyday spending.  Women (29%) are more likely than men (18%) to use 1p or 2p coins to pay for items in their day to day shopping.

Young adults (aged 18 to 24) have the least affection for copper coins – with a third saying they would be happy if the 5p coin was the lowest value coin in circulation (21% for all adults).  More than three times (18%) as many 18 to 24 year olds never spend pennies or 2p coins than all adults (5%).

The survey also revealed that;

  • 17% of Brits think that copper coins are just simply annoying (29% for 18 to 24 year olds) - with 5% saying they never spend them;
  • While the majority of Brits (62%) are happy with the value of coins in circulation, 21% said they would be happy if the 5p coin was the lowest denomination;
  • Just over one in ten (11%) would like to see the 10p as the lowest value coin in circulation;
  • 61% of people just drop any copper coins they receive into a savings or coin jar, the average jar contains £15.40 worth of 1p and 2p coins;
  • 3% of Brits have dropped copper coins in the bin (8% for 18 to 24 year olds).

Commenting on the research findings, Matt Sanders, Gocompare.com’s money spokesperson, said; “Our survey suggests that for many people, especially young adults, copper coins have had their day. Rather than carrying around a pocket or purse full of heavy, low value, coins, many people are storing their small change in a coin jar - some are even binning their coppers.

“The penny and 2p coin came into circulation in 1971 when a pint of milk cost 5p, a white sliced loaf 10p and 15p would buy you a pint of beer**.  Since then, inflation has dramatically reduced copper coins’ buying power.  And, according the Royal Mint, 1p and 2p coins are only legal tender for any amount not exceeding 20p. So, you’ll contravene the Coinage Act 1971 if, in a single transaction, you try to pay for an item with more than twenty 1p coins or ten 2p coins.

“So, today, in a world of higher prices, plastic cards and contactless payments, copper coins seem increasingly worthless and irrelevant.”


Notes to editors:

*On 29 July 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,000 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Source: The Social Trends report by The Office for National Statistics.