Contactless payments dominated 90% of high street transactions in 2020

By Aisling Finn on Friday 22 January 2021

Digital Banking

On average, contactless cardholders made 141 contactless transactions worth a total of £1,640.

Contactless payments dominated 90% of high street transactions in 2020
Image source: naipo de/Unsplash

Contactless was the payment method of choice for high street spending in 2020, according to new data from Barclaycard.

Nine out of every ten eligible transactions used the payment method, with the over 65s being the widest adopters of contactless.

Despite the shift to online shopping as most stores closed during lockdown, the total value of contactless transactions grew by seven per cent, largely due to the increase of the contactless limit from £30 up to £45 in April 2020.

Following the limit increase, the average value of contactless payments jumped by nearly a third, from £9.60 in 2019 to £12.38 in 2020.

Raheel Ahmed, Barclaycard’s head of consumer products, said: “We are proud to be playing our part in helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and we are delighted to see that even more Brits are relying on contactless to make in-store payments.” 

“We believe that contactless is the safer, faster and most responsible way to pay in-store, and we encourage all consumers to take advantage of it wherever possible.”

The biggest day for contactless in 2020 was Saturday 19 December, the last Saturday before Christmas, and the day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdown measures, with the average contactless spend being 71.9 per cent higher than the daily average for the year.

Given the lockdown restrictions and most other shops being closed, grocery stores saw the biggest growth in contactless users.

In grocery stores, payments increased by 29.4 per cent year-on-year, mainly down to the increased £45 limit.

Other stores also saw big increases, with DIY shops experiencing a 69.4 per cent jump as people turned to home improvement under lockdown and petrol stations also saw an increase of just under a quarter (24.7 per cent).

Before the UK was in full lockdown, back in early March, it was suggested by the World Health Organisation that banknotes could harbour the Covid-19 virus for several days, increasing its transmission and turning most people to other payment methods.

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