The British Retail Consortium (BRC), in its latest report for 2013, has found that Britons are spending less and less in cash, while cards and online payments are rising.
Since 2009, the number of debit card transactions has risen constantly – accounting for 32% of all payments – and, as becoming a ‘mainstream’ option, the average amount spent each time has fallen from £31.45 ($52.67) to £27.58.
Helen Dickinson, director general at BRC, said: "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."
In fact, despite cash still accounting for 53% of all transactions, the average amount spent has fallen to just £9.47 per payment.
This represents a 17% fall from 2009, when the average amount spent in a cash transaction stood at £11.43.
The report also found that credit and charge cards were used for the biggest purchases, with an average £40.81 spent per transaction in 2013. This type of payment now accounts for 9% of all transactions but for 21% by value spent.
The BRC also found that retailers were charged almost 41p per credit card transaction and near 9p for each debit card payment.
"It is really disappointing that the average cost of accepting both credit and debit cards have increased over five years. Interchange fees cost the retail industry and its customers almost £1bn in 2013.
"The much-welcomed European proposals to cap how much banks can charge retailers to process card payments are close to final approval, but in the meantime, we continue to work with the UK Government and Payment Systems Regulator to implement caps on UK fees without further delay, as has happened in other European countries," Dickinson added.
The UK Cards Association, however, reckoned that the charges were good value. It stated: "A reduced income from retailers would mean that the substantial costs of providing cards, and the systems which enable customers to pay for things safely and speedily, would have to be funded in other ways."
The BRC’s latest report shows that figures are following the path started in 2012. According to the group, 2012 was the first year in the survey’s 13 year history that both the number of cash transactions and the amount spent in cash saw a decline, down respectively 6.7% and 9.7%.
The group stated at the time: "The major gainers have been debit cards, and newer methods such as PayPal, as online and self-service shopping grows. Increasingly people also prefer debit to credit cards as they try to manage their under-pressure finances – leaving cash and credit cards the big losers."