Shoppers 'drowning in a sea of loyalty cards'

Loyalty cards

British shoppers are happy to sign up for retail reward cards, but show little loyalty when it comes to actually using them.

That's according to a survey of 63 countries by market researchers Nielsen, which found 89% of British consumers belong to a loyalty scheme.

Only Finland has a higher membership rate.

Britons belong to an average of 3.6 schemes each - a rate bettered by only Japan and Lithuania, the survey found.

However, the 30,000 online consumers surveyed - including 501 in Britain - suggested that only half of UK shoppers would actively buy from a retailer with a loyalty scheme ahead of one without - the lowest proportion apart from Denmark.

Some 55% said that they shopped more at retailers with loyalty schemes - considerably lower than the global average of 67%.

"This suggests Britons simply like the idea of signing up rather than actually using them - a 'tick-box' exercise - but the schemes are not personalised enough to keep them engaged," said Mike Watkins, Nielsen's UK head of retailer and business insight.

"The result being UK retail is drowning in a sea of loyalty cards."

Cashback was the most popular feature of these rewards among consumers. Businesses are keen on them as the data held on loyalty cards is rich with information about shopping habits

Just over half of those asked in Britain, and 62% globally, said they were comfortable with retailers collecting information about their habits in exchange for discounts.

This search for value is key to shopping habits with experts suggesting that "promiscuous" consumers shop around for the best deal - diluting the impact of loyalty cards.

Others argue that loyalty schemes in a digital format will grow in the future.

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