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Transaction growth outstrips spend as consumers make more smaller payments

Average value of a retail card purchase at a record low

Debit and credit card spending reached £47.8 billion in October but the annual growth rate is slowing, according to the latest figures from The UK Cards Association.

Card spending grew by 6.5 per cent in the year to October, down from a peak of 7.4 per cent in May this year. Figures show that debit cards are the preferred option, with the annual growth rate for debit card spending at 7.5 per cent, almost double that of credit cards at 3.9 per cent.

At the same time the total number of card transactions is growing at the fastest rate since February 2005, with 1.025 billion purchases in October.

With transaction growth once again outstripping spending, the average value of a retail card transaction has dropped to a record low of £33.30. This is a reflection of the continuing migration of low value cash payments to cards, along with the increasing use of contactless cards.

Richard Koch, Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, said:

”While the lowest inflation rate for 12 years and falling petrol prices appear to be slowing the growth in the overall value of card spending, consumers are actually using their cards more frequently than ever. Over three quarters of retail spending is now made via cards, with people opting for their debit cards for smaller payments in particular. ”

The key movements to note are:

  • Retail sector spending rose by £104 million to £23.5 billion in October, driven by food and drink and household goods.
  • The impact of half-term meant that the biggest increases in card spending between September and October were recorded in concerts and entertainers (up 142 per cent) and cinema, theatre and dance (up 55 per cent). The deadline for paper tax returns on the 31st October resulted in the third highest increase in tax preparation services (up 47 per cent).
  • The debit and credit card share of total retail sales was 75.7 per cent in October.

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