Shoppers pay £520bn by card as death of cash draws nearer

Tim Wallace
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THREE-quarters of spending in UK shops is paid for on debit and credit cards, the UK Cards Association revealed yesterday.

A decade ago, plastic accounted for half of spending in shops.

The surge means that shoppers used cards for more than £520bn of spending in 2013, a record high.

The figure compares with spending of £300bn in 2003.

On top of this, foreign visitors to Britain spent another £14bn on cards over 2013.

Around half of transactions by volume are carried out in cash, indicating that customers pay the larger bills by card and splash out for smaller purchases by cash.

But despite the rise in spending on cards, shoppers’ credit card debts dropped sharply in the years up to 2013.

Outstanding debts on credit cards stood at a monthly average of £56.4bn last year, down 15.6 per cent from the peak of £67.4bn in 2005.

“With three in every four pounds spent in British shops now paid with cards, these figures reveal a huge shift over the last decade in the way we chose to transact,” said the group’s boss Melanie Johnson.

“The rise in online shopping, coupled with increasing momentum behind contactless cards, will likely see this trend in consumer behaviour continue.”