Retailers must cater for cards and contactless, or miss out on Xmas profits

The vast majority of shoppers expect to pay by card anywhere

EE 4G connected retail

It's Christmas shopping time, so of course retailers should be making a killing right now – but some smaller businesses are missing out on hoovering up that cash due to a lack of card and contactless payment facilities, according to the latest research.

The survey by mobile network EE (of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by OnePoll) found that no less than 80% of UK shoppers now expect to be able to pay for any transaction using a credit or debit card.

And worryingly, 25% of respondents said they had been forced to abandon a purchase because card facilities weren't present – EE notes that's equivalent to some 13 million shoppers.

There's also been a rise in the usage of contactless payments, which are a newer and trickier still issue for small retailers. The research found that 28% of respondents preferred to use contactless because it's simply an easy way to pay, and 29% expressed a preference because contactless is also a quick method of paying.

Spending on cards grew 6.4% last December compared to the previous year, with a rather staggering £49 billion splashed out – and that's a big pot of Christmas cash which ill-equipped small retail outfits are missing out on.

Biggest card spenders

EE also broke down the percentage of people who use cards for most transactions into cities, and surprisingly London wasn't top – in fact it was seventh on 61%, just ahead of Manchester on 58%.

The highest proportion of card users was seen in Brighton where a figure of 72% was recorded, followed by York with 71%, and then Birmingham on 66%.

When it came to Scotland, Edinburgh was on 53%, and as for Wales, Cardiff recorded a figure of 56%.

If you're a small business concerned about your lack of payment facilities, EE has a couple of solutions on offer built around the iZettle Pro Contactless card reader.

These are the 4G Pop-Up Bundle and Connected Retail, bringing 4G point of sale (POS) capabilities to pop-up shops and market stalls in the former case, and a fully featured retail POS system for established shops with the latter (which apparently can save in the order of up to 80% compared to a traditional POS system).

Mike Tomlinson, director of small business at EE, commented: "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. 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."

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