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Cash use falls further as cards account for three-quarters of all payments

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Card use has topped more than 75% of retail sales for the first time, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) data.

Almost 20 billion transactions were made in 2017, up from the 19 billion reported in the previous year. This equates to around 54 million transactions a day, or 40,000 a minute.

And plastic was used to pay for £277.1bn worth of goods last year, accounting for 76% of all retail sales. According to the BRC, this is the first time card use has passed the 75% milestone.

The average amount spent stood at £22.57 in 2017, falling back from £18.42 reported in the previous year.

In total, UK retail sales rose 4.3% last year to reach £366bn, up from £351bn reported in the previous period.

In comparison, cash use continues its decline. It fell 0.5% as a share of retail transactions and 1.2% as a share of retail sales.

The BRC data, which captures 48% of the entire retail industry, reveals that cash accounts for 22% of all retail sales.

As card payments are becoming more popular, the BRC revealed that retailers are concerned about the rising costs of accepting plastic.

Its annual payment survey showed that retailers spent an extra £170m to process card payments in 2017, reaching almost £1bn.

The increased costs have been driven entirely by card scheme fees, which jumped 39% in 2017.

BRC head of payments and consumer credit, Andrew Cregan, said:EU payment regulation introduced in 2015 delivered savings for the retail industry and consumers, but these benefits have now been eroded by increases in other card fees. In fact many smaller retailers have questioned whether savings were ever passed on by card companies.

“The BRC is now looking to the government and regulator to tackle the alarming increases to card scheme fees imposed on retailers, and for action to simplify the complex fees and charges levied by the card payments industry.”

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