HAIRDRESSERS face thousands of pounds in lost tips this year as customers shun cash amid the coronavirus crisis.

In Brighton, almost a quarter of a million pounds in tips could go up in smoke, according to market analysts Ask Traders.

The company conducted a survey that found 63 per cent of people would not tip in a cashless society. It said that taking into account an average ten per cent tip, the city’s hairdressers could be £248,686 worse off.

On the ground, barbers are feeling the effects.

Hossein Hamdollahi owns Cutter and Grinder in Duke Street, Brighton.

He said: “It’s really easy to give a tip when you’re paying in cash. People will just say ‘keep the change’.

“Now, people often just punch in the number on the card machine without leaving a tip.

“With all the bills we have to pay, it’s hitting really hard.”

Mr Hamdollahi said that after an initial boom, custom has been petering out for hairdressers and barbers across the city.

“In the first two weeks, there was quite a rush,” he said. “Now, it’s really quiet. Business has massively dropped – and that’s true for everyone I’ve spoken to.”

Mr Hamdollahi said cash tips had provided a welcome relief because they are exempt from National Insurance.

He said: “It’s really hard for us– I have so many taxes to pay – there’s PAYE, self-assessment, council tax – the list goes on.

“I remember when I was starting out around seven years ago, an accountant came in to the barbers. He paid £23 for his haircut, and then gave me a £2 tip.

He said: “That’s for the tax man – and the tip’s for you.

“Now, I know what he means.”

But not everyone thinks the move away from cash will hit takings.

Some hairdressers say the rise in people using cards to pay has even encouraged people to tip.

At Rush Hair Brighton in North Street, the salon’s Sue Bolton said: “It hasn’t affected us much. When people pay by card, the machine suggests paying a tip – and if anything, it’s easier to tip.

“A lot of people don’t have cash anyway at the moment.”

At North Laine Hair Company Brighton Hairdressers, a member of staff said tips had remained consistent even with customers paying by card. That feeling was echoed at Simon Webster Hair in Gardner Street, Brighton.

A member of staff said: “A lot of clients do give tips in cash, generally speaking directly to the stylist.

“Even though we’ve gone cashless at reception, they’re still able to tip in cash.

“It just depends on how your system works.”

Government guidance recommends contactless card payments rather than cash to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has been shown to live on some surfaces for days.

The Bank of England states: “Like any other surface that large numbers of people come into contact with, banknotes can carry bacteria or viruses.”

In April, the contactless payment limit was increased from £30 to £45 to reduce the need for people to touch payment terminals.

More than half of all payments were made by card even before coronavirus and Covid-19 is accelerating the move away from cash.

The chief executive of Link, which runs the UK’s cash machine network, revealed withdrawals fell by 60 per in April compared to April 2019.

He believes society could be almost completely cashless in two years’ time.