Apacs figures chart the slow death of cheques

Apacs figures chart the slow death of cheques

Brits continued to turn away from cheques and towards plastic debit cards to make payments in 2008, according to figures from Apacs.

Retail spending statistics - which cover all online and offline retail transactions - show that of a total £269.9 billion spent by consumers last year, £116.1 billion (43%) was by debit card, up 6.8% on the previous year.

In contrast, only £7.1 billion (three per cent) was by cheque, a 4.1% decline on 2007. Cash and credit card spending remained comparatively flat.

For total consumer spending - which includes financial, travel and entertainment payments - the difference was even more pronounced.

Debit card spending was up 9.5%, to £245.4 billion, on the previous year, while cheques saw a decline of 6.9%, to £180.6 billion. Automated payments continued to account for the biggest chunk of spending, £333.1 billion, up 6.9% on 2007.

Sandra Quinn, director, communications, Apacs "Despite what started to happen across the economy last year these latest figures don't reveal any marked changes from the annual trends we've seen over the past few years. Most notably consumers are increasingly choosing to use their debit cards in preference to cash or cheques and also, it seems, their credit cards."

Last March the UK's Payments Council delivered its first national payments plan which included proposals for the "managed decline" of paper-based cheques.

At the time Brian Pomeroy, chairman of the Payments Council board, said: "Our diagnosis that use of the cheque is in irreversible decline went almost unchallenged."

Many of the UK's biggest retailers have stopped accepting cheques for payments over the last couple of years. Supermarkets Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Asda and Tesco along with retailers Boots and Marks and Spencer, are either phasing out or have already stopped taking cheques.

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