High Streets Initiative · 12 December 2017

Ongoing card surcharging sees high street shoppers cancel transactions worth £10bn

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As of January 2018, card surcharging will be banned in the UK

UK consumers have started to walk out of high street stores upholding card surcharges ahead of the incoming January ban, new research has found, with one in three having abandoned a transaction mid-sale since the summer.

As of January 2018, retailers will be banned from charging fees for credit and debit card payments, a move which has polarised opinion on the high street. Many fear they will have to absorb the typically high costs many payment terminal providers charge, while some have suggested small retailers will benefit from no longer having to pass the cost of card surcharging on to customers.

According to research undertaken by Paymentsense, shoppers have already voiced their disapproval of ongoing card surcharging on the high street, with many business owners reluctant to adjust transaction fees before the ban is introduced.

Out of 1,000 consumers, 42 per cent had experienced no change in surcharge fees on the high street.

In London, fewer than a third of shoppers had noticed small retailers and food outlets had dropped charges, with the figure even lower elsewhere.

Only a fifth of consumers in Manchester had seen card surcharges removed, with the same number in Birmingham. In Bristol, just 15 per cent of shoppers noticed any change.

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Nationally, over a third of shoppers claimed they had subsequently walked out of a shop mid-purchase having encountered a surcharge fee since the ban was announced in June. Again, this intensified in the capital, with 41 per cent cancelling a sale.

Overall, just eight per cent of consumers across the country said they would still pay a surcharge fee, while one in four would not return to a store upholding transaction costs.

To gauge how much small high street businesses had lost due to shopper walkouts, Paymentsense put the £135m monthly card spend with small businesses up against the walkout rate. In total, stores could have lost out on as much as £10bn in sales.

Commenting on the findings, Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense said the early issues faced by retail owners could soon be resolved.

“We believe the upcoming change will help small businesses as well as consumers. Shoppers previously affected by a potential surcharge are likely to see a saving of between two and three percent per card transaction,” Moreve explained.

He added: “Our study also highlighted that SMEs across the country have lost revenue and customers by maintaining card surcharges, after the ban was widely announced. However, after January 13, everybody will know where they stand, and the days of surcharge-related walkouts will be gone. This can only be a good thing for the UK’s small businesses.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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