Card payments dominate UK retail sales as cash usage falls

Card payments dominate UK retail sales as cash usage falls

Cards now account for more than three quarters of the value of retail purchases in the UK, as contactless payments continue to eat into cash's share of the pie.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium's (BRC) annual payments survey, cards were used to pay for £277.1 billion worth of goods in 2017, accounting for 76% of retail sales volume.

Meanwhile, cash continued its decline both as a share of retail transactions (down 0.5%) and value of sales (down 1.2%), where it now make up just 22%.

The BRC says that the rise of card payments is hitting its members in the pocket, with retailers spending an extra £170 million to process payments in 2017. Fees are now approaching £1 billion a year.

The group is blaming the rise entirely on the card schemes, claiming that fees have jumped by 39% in 2017, and is calling on the government and regulator to step in.

Andrew Cregan, head, payments and consumer credit, BRC, says: "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 are 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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