UK retailers spent £1.1 billion (€1.2 billion) in 2019 to accept payments from customers, with card transactions accounting for £950 million (€1.04 billion) of the total, data from the latest Payments Survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has revealed.
The study also found that the use of card payments increased to 61% in 2019 from 54% in 2016.
The trend has accelerated with the coronavirus pandemic as more shoppers are either paying by card in stores or buying online, BRC added.
Card payments account for £4 in every £5 spent in retail, but they also incur the highest charges.
Shops are charged an average of 18.4 pence per credit card transaction (+15% on 2016), and 5.9 pence for every debit card transaction (+6% from 2016), the study noted.
'Excessive Card Costs'
Andrew Cregan, head of finance policy at the British Retail Consortium said, “With card payments accounting for almost 80% of retail sales, it is vital that the government takes action to tackle excessive card costs.
“Without action, we will see businesses put under further pressure, and it will be consumers who are forced to pay the price.”
The British Retail Consortium, British Independent Retailers Association, Association of Convenience Stores, Federation of Small Business and UK Hospitality have called for decisive action to tackle increasing scheme fees to protect businesses and consumers from high card payment costs.
A series of consultations by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is already underway, the report added.
Chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman, said, “The way that customers pay in convenience stores is continuing to diversify, and the costs that must be met by retailers to provide these options are rising. Recent years have seen the financing of ATMs undermined, causing many machines to become fee-charging regardless of retailer preferences, and some parts of card fees double for retailers.
“There are two priorities for retailers here: everyone would benefit from a restored national network supplying access to cash, and action is needed to allow retailers to find the best deal and switch card payment providers.”