Shoppers ‘using less cash than ever’ as they embrace digital shopping

Cash use has dropped to its lowest ever level as the rise of contactless payments and self-service tills, as well as marketing initiatives to promote their use, boosted debit card sales, according to a report.

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Contactless payments have helped boost debit card use.

The study by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that by value, debit cards are the most popular, accounting for 49.6 per cent of sales. Cash use has fallen by 14 per cent over the past five years to account for 27.6 per cent of total sales.

However, cash remains the dominant method of paying, accounting for 52.6 per cent of transactions last year, ahead of debit cards on 32.7 per cent and credit cards on 9.3 per cent. But the use of cash has fallen by 9.6 per cent over the past 5 years.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, says: “Cash use down 14 per cent in the last five years is a milestone in the development of our digital economy. It shows that customers are embracing digital shopping whether online or on the high street and retailers are adapting and evolving to meet the demand with excellent services.”

The BRC says marketing initiatives to highlight contactless cards by banks and retailers helped boost their use, as did promotion of the benefits of using self-service tills in stores. The rise of convenience grocery stores and online shopping also boosted the use of debit cards for smaller purchases.

PayPal recently launched its first global campaign to promote its payment options, including pre-order and pay at table services in restaurants.

Over the last five years the average transaction value for cash has fallen 17 per cent to £9.47 in 2013. For debit cards, that figure has fallen 12 per cent to £27.58.

“Customers are taking advantages of new ways to shop and pay. The availability of contactless cards, handy express stores and self-service tills, as well as online sales, has increased the use of debit cards for smaller payments in place of cash,” Dickenson adds.

The BRC’s payments survey 2013 covers 60 per cent of total UK retail sales.

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