Card retail transactions up to 81%, survey finds

This is up from 78% in 2020, according to the latest annual payments survey by the BRC

Debit and credit card retail transactions surpassed four in every five pounds spent in 2020 (81%, up from 78% in 2019), according to the latest annual payments survey published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). 

Cash use now accounts for just 15% of total spending in retail (down from 20% in 2019), though it still accounts for 30% of individual transactions, with the change attributed to The pandemic and digital shift.

The survey also revealed changes to shopping patterns, with consumers making fewer, but bigger shopping trips. 

While the number of transactions fell by 13% (from 19.1bn in 2019 to 16.7bn in 2020), consumers spent on average 20% more per transaction. The average transaction value increased from £20.16 in 2019 to £24.15 in 2020.

As such, the trend towards card payments in recent years has meant retailers incurred costs of more than £1bn to accept these payments from customers in 2020. Debit cards, which accounted for over half of all transactions (54%) for the first time, have seen transaction fees rise by 22% (to 7.2 pence per transaction).

The BRC, along with other business groups, has called on parliament to intervene and “tackle anti-competitive practices in card payments to protect British businesses and consumers from spiralling costs”. 

Andrew Cregan, payments policy advisor at BRC, said: “The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards card payments, with more than four in every five pounds spent in retail now made with credit or debit cards. Basket sizes also rose, as customers made bigger, but fewer purchases. 

“While cash use has declined in importance, it remains vital for many people who do not have access to other payment methods.”

He added: “Despite the general movement to card payments, retailers are being punished through the soaring cost of accepting such payments. 

“Parliament needs to urgently intervene in this anti-competitive behaviour by regulating card scheme fees and abolishing interchange fees, both of which ultimately hurt consumers. Card firms are abusing their dominant market position, and this must come to an end.”

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