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Cash is still king - BRC survey shows

According to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Cost of Payment Collection Survey, in 2011 the overall average transaction value has declined from £21.76 to £19.01.

However, the overall number of transactions has increased by over 17.7% in the same period.

The survey shows that cash is king and still accounts for 58.3% of all transactions - compared to 55.2% in 2010. Debit cards account for 29.09% of transactions, down from 33.93% in 2010. Cheques are seeing a minor resurgence up to 0.9% of transactions from 0.6% the previous year.

Tom Ironside, BRC director of business and regulation said this increase in cash payment reflected shoppers’ financial concerns. “Customers have less money,” he said. “They’re buying things only as and when they need them, shopping more often but spending less each time, and they’re more likely to be paying with cash. In 2010 financial worries were putting people off running-up debt and they turned away from credit cards. Now times are even tougher and people have switched to cash to better manage their spending.”

The survey also revealed that the average cost to a retailer of having a credit or charge card payment processed was 36.2p while for a debit card it was 9.6p. The cost of having cash transported and banked averaged 1.5p, down from 1.7p for the previous year.

The BRC said its evidence showed fees levied on domestic card transactions are unjustifiably high and called on the OFT to take action on the issue.

“There can be no justification for such dramatic differences in charges,” added Ironside. “They’re an unjustifiable tax on retailers and customers. And more efficient technology should result in charges going down not up.”

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