Business Technology

The 11 UK cities where your business risks losses by snubbing cashless consumers

4 min read

10 December 2015

Former deputy editor

Small UK retailers are running the risk of Christmas sales crumbling this festive season by ignoring card payment trends, says EE, which has listed the 11 cities across the country where consumers have the highest dependency on cards – and London isn't the leader.

It could be lonely this Christmas for many retailers if there is not an attitude adjustment among decision makers, EE’s findings show.

The firm’s research showed 80 per cent of British shoppers expect to be able to pay for items with credit and debit cards but, despite that desire, 25 per cent – equivalent to 13m consumers – have been forced to abandon their purchase because there’s been no card support.

EE noted that the additional challenge for small merchants has arisen with the growing trend of contactless payments. In September it was reported that Brits spent £2.5bn via contactless in the first half of this year, while the arrival of Apple Pay and Barclay’s Bpay, which comes in the form of wearables, are out to accelerate the payment method.

The mobile network found that 29 per cent of shoppers prefer to use contactless because of its speed and 28 per cent said it’s down to ease of use.

Read more on contactless payments:

Citing research from the UK Cards Association, EE said £49bn was spent via cards on more than one billion items in December 2014 – a 6.4 per cent annual increase, which is likely to grow further this year.

Mike Tomlinson, director of small business at EE, said: “Christmas is one of the most important trading periods of the year for most small businesses, and our research shows how vital it is to offer shoppers the ability to pay by card.”

Indeed, the study showed the 11 cities where customers use their cards for the majority of transactions, which could serve as a wake-up call for any companies reading this that are based there. Interestingly, London wasn’t at the top of the pile.

Regional breakdown of where shoppers use their cards for the majority of transactions:

1. Brighton – 72 per cent
2. York – 71 per cent
3. Birmingham – 66 per cent
4. Norwich – 65 per cent
5. Bristol – 63 per cent
6. Nottingham – 62 per cent
7. London – 61 per cent
8. Manchester – 58 per cent
9. Cardiff – 56 per cent
10. Edinburgh – 53 per cent
11. Newcastle – 51 per cent

In order to make sure small retailers don’t miss out, EE is offering two bundles, 4G Pop-Up and Connected Retail, to provide access to the web and mobile point of sale support for short-term merchants and those at Christmas markets.

“EE’s Connected Retail and Pop-Up products help small businesses to quickly and easily offer customers the ability to securely pay by card over 4G, whether in a shop or a market stall, ensuring that they’re not missing out on sales at a crucial time,” Tomlinson added.

Shauna Guinn, co-owner of Cardiff-based barbecue business Hang Fire Smokehouse, has started using EE’s Pop-up bundle.

“This Christmas is by far the busiest yet for Hang Fire Smokehouse. Pop-ups, street food events and Christmas markets are the order of the day. In the three days before Christmas we will be selling from an old local butchers shop with no phone line, broadband or cash point, so it’s crucial that we can take card payments,” she said.

“We are a small artisan food business where every penny counts, and we couldn’t survive the festive season without card payments. Cash is becoming a thing of the past as so many customers want to and expect to pay with cards.”