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Economy

More than 75% of retail payments now made by card

Retail purchases made by card accounted for 76% of all retail sales made in 2017, according to the latest annual Payments Survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) .

The trade association said this has partly been driven by UK customers increasingly using cards for lower value payments, traditionally dominated by cash. Cash fell again by more than 1%, accounting for just 22% of all retail sales.

The BRC Payments Survey data is a sample from 48% of the whole retail industry and looked at the methods of payment UK shoppers are using when buying goods in store and online.

As card payments have become more prevalent, retailers have expressed concern at the rising costs of accepting cards. The survey revealed that retailers spent an additional £170m to process card payments in 2017, reaching almost £1bn for the year.

The research showed that increasing costs have been driven entirely by card scheme fees, which rose by 39% in 2017. The increase in fees to retailers in 2018 ranged between 30% and 100% for some transactions.

In July, the Court of Appeals ruled in favour of retailers who claimed card fees charged by Mastercard and Visa when customers made a transaction were too high.

The BRC has called for action from the government and the regulator to address the problem of rising scheme fees.

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 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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