Cash remains king in UK shops, says BRC

Coins Cash was the most popular way to pay in 2012, and the cheapest for shopkeepers

Cash is still the most popular form of payment in UK shops but the popularity of vouchers and coupons is on the rise, research has suggested.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) analysed 10 billion retail payments in 2012 - 60% of all UK retail sales.

Cash accounted for about 54% of all transactions, but non-cash, non-card payments rose from less than 2% to 5% of the total.

Debit cards also remained popular, the figures showed.

'Ones to watch'

Use of cash in terms of the number of transactions and money spent in shops was down on the previous year. This was the first time in the survey's 13-year history that both measures recorded a fall.

Alternative means of payment, such as online payments and money-off coupons, grew, although these remained a fraction of the total.

"These methods will be the 'ones to watch' in the future, and retailers are investing heavily to make sure their customers have choice and convenience in ways to pay, whether in-store, at home or on the move," said Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC.

Debit cards accounted for 30% of transactions, while credit cards or charge cards were used in nearly 11% of cases.

The BRC repeated its concern that credit card transactions cost retailers significantly more to process than cash.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    @20 Bill
    "The banks get their cut out of every card transaction, effectively reducing the total spend by 2 or 3%. How does that help the broader economy?"

    It costs money to store and transport cash. And it's also a security risk to the shops (robbery), and to the guards who have to transport the cash to cash machines and from shops to banks.

    Paying by card is far more cost-effective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Exactly. The more power we give to government and their fat-cat pals/masters the more they will abuse it. History testifies to this simple fact. We must keep control of our own finances. If cash is done away with, then what is to stop these 'middle men' taking what percentage they desire? What is to stop the Government freezing the credit of whomsoever they desire?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    sick and tired of standing in queues waiting for someone to pay for a mars bar by credit card.
    Solved the problem by getting a loads of chilled and frozen food then refusing to buy it at the checkout because the temperature had risen, the offending store now has a minimum card spend of £10

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Consumers make the society we live in.

    A cashless society has many perils, personally I prefer to rely upon the physical. Government may guarantee the banks but if another serious crash happens where will the money come from to meet those guarantees.
    As with other countrys in financial difficulty, government can & does impose what it likes in an emergency, physical is better & safer

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I lost a large amount of money on my debit card, as someone was out shopping on it. You really have to find concrete evidence to prove that the transactions are not yours in the first place to get that money back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Silly. The proportion of cash payments will vary with transaction value. If you eliminated payments of under (say) £10 a totally different picture would emerge. And in any case, value is much more important than volume. I wonder what % of sales value is from cards?

    These people need to measure the right things if they want to understand their business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    So, more transactions use cash - but what are the values? If I buy a cup of coffee or a bag of sweets, I'll invariably use cash. However, for a weekly shop, refilling the car, purchases of electrical goods etc, then it's the debit card (I don't want to carry that much cash around with me). Value wise, I think debit cards will win every time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    People are confusing debit cards and credit cards. You can't spend what you don't have on a debit card. Using cash doesn't make you a better with money, it's the same thing!

    Credit cards aren't bad if you pay off your balance each month either. When I turned 18 I got my first CC and used it to pay for everything. I had an excellent credit rating by the time I was about 20 to use as a safety net.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I have stopped using my cards in the shops, since they introduced contactless technology on my card without my say so. It has been quite liberating using cash again and I definitely spend less. I feel more in control of my own money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    i know where i'm at with cash. makes thrift and frugality much easier. Some things must be paid by CC but there is no fun in it.
    after one has the house, tv, cooker, bed, chair and clothes there is very little one needs to spend on, ergo shops full of white goods are suffering a drop in trade. this alone has a big impact on the economy, no trickle down is stalemate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Cash gives us control, which we surrender if we resort to plastic. Plastic has become a snoopers charter, our every move recorded and used to create profiles so that our retailers can start targeting us with 'special offers'. Use plastic if you don't mind retailers stalking your every move but I prefer my privacy and thus use cash as my flexible friend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    @13 paulthebadger

    The purpose is to let the masses discuss diversionary idiotic articles. HYS seldom opens commentary on important issues, sadly

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Yes, many prefer to use cash.

    Now where is the story here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    To Stuart8827
    You seem very smug about the fact that you can sit at home and do everything financial online. I think you need to research the consequences of the inevitable one-world currency and the long-planned for introduction of 'one-world' electronic money, when all paper money/cash will be outlawed and anyone not 'tagged' to a Mafia Bank will be deemed worthy of being starved to death!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I prefer cash for most purposes, though I do use a card for some payments. My biggest payments, i.e. rent, are by direct debit, however. A computer-credit only society would be a bad thing since people would lose control over their own money, placing it in the hands of corrupt bankers and administrators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Well, maybe if we get rid of cash, we can get rid off a lot of the tax avoidance/evasion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    It's a pity Labour never liked the idea of using cash to pay for things. But instead it got the country's credit card out and went on a spending spree with money we did not have.

    So if Labour had stuck to cash instead of using it's credit card we'd not be in huge debt now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Meanwhile the number of people forced to go to a charity food bank (or soup kitchen as they used to be called) just to have food to eat has increased from 26000 in 2008/9 to almost half a million in 2012/13, an increase of something like 1900%, but the BBC doesn't seem to think this is a topic worth discussion...

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I am happy using either cash or card.
    What really bugs me is that wherever you go "have you got a **** loyalty card.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I agree with GrunpyNick. In the five years that I have been with my current bank I dont think I have been into the branch more than half a dozen times and most of them was to pay in a cheque, another dying breed.

    All my banking is done on-line from the comfort of my own living room where I can keep an eye on my finances anytime of the day or night,


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