Cash spending down as Brits flex the plastic

2 June 2014

The use of cash has fallen by 14% over the past five years as consumers turn to plastic for low-value transactions.

Contactless cards, handy express stores, self-service tills and online sales are behind the penchant for plastic, with debit cards accounting for half of all retail sales in 2013 - an increase of 11 % over the past five years.

Debit cards were used in 32% of all transactions in 2013, up from 30% a year earlier, but cash remains king at 53% - although this figure is down 10% over five years.

When it comes to credit cards, people are spending the same amount but on fewer purchases, something the British Retail Consortium (BRC) - which published the figures - said suggests more considered purchasing.

Meanwhile, consumers are warming to contactless payments with 15% of Brits having made one in the past year and 22% expecting to do so this year, according to research from GoCompare. Last year, only 6% had made a contactless payment.

The comparison site also found that 28% of those surveyed had made payments using a banking app on their smartphone in the past year.

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Digital developments

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: "Cash use down 14% 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."

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