A large-scale survey of Britain’s retail habits suggests that the use of cash by consumers has fallen by 14% in five years. Consumer spending habits are always changing, and while the method of payment may not seem immediately important to retailers, the charges associated with payments can be surprisingly significant.

The survey, conducted annually by the British Retail Consortium, found that payment by debit card now accounts for half of total retail sales value in the UK, an increase of 11% in five years. Nearly a third of transactions are now carried out through debit cards. 53% of transactions are still made using cash, although this figure has declined by 3% in just a single year.

In a press release, the BRC also criticised the payment charges levied by banks, calling them ‘unjustifiably high.’ The cost of processing a credit card transaction has almost doubled in five years, to 40.9 pence. Credit cards and charge cards make up less than a tenth of all retail transactions, but nearly 50% of transaction costs. Debit card costs have risen by 4%, and account for 37% of costs.

Director General of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, explained that the recent changes were due to ‘the availability of contactless cards, handy express stores and self-service tills as well as online sales.’

The point-of-sale experience for customers continues to change. The past ten years have seen the widespread adoption of point-of-sale software, which aims to speed up the POS process and also provide staff with details about past transactions and credit limits agreed by the client. This detail is particularly valuable for builders’ merchants and hardware stores, as they will have many regular trade customers. Want to learn more about retail and point-of-sale software? Take a look at our software solutions.