Supermarket contactless spending jumps 2.4 times as ‘touch and go’ becomes most popular way to pay, Barclaycard data shows

Data released by Barclaycard today as part of its latest Contactless Spending Index shows supermarket shoppers are increasingly turning to ‘touch and go’ as their payment method of choice when making purchases up to the value of £30.

With all major supermarkets now accepting contactless following the roll-out by Sainsbury’s late last year, groceries bought through ‘touch and go’ technology have risen 136% by value and 114% by volume in the last 12 months – as shoppers make higher value purchases with their contactless cards and devices and also use them more frequently.

The news comes as industry body the UK Cards Association (UKCA) reveals that overall contactless payments accounted for £25 billion of spending in 2016, up from £7.75 billion in 2015. This is supported by Barclaycard data which shows that spending across all categories rose 166% during the same period.

Saving approximately seven seconds per transaction compared to Chip and PIN, busy shoppers now favour ‘touch and go’, with 55% of all eligible electronic transactions (those up to £30) now made using this payments technology.

While contactless is surging in popularity among all age-groups, for the second year running it’s the nation’s ‘Silver Spenders’ – those aged over 60 – where adoption is climbing at the fastest rate. Among this group, the number of users has surged 64% in the last 12 months alone, while in comparison – as the number of users among all other age groups is already relatively high – the rate of growth is slower. The next highest increase is among 50-64, who have upped their usage by 60%, followed by 35-49 year-olds (45%), 25-34 year-olds (30%t) and 18-24 year-olds (23%).

It’s not just supermarkets, however, that are enjoying a roaring contactless trade. Other sectors to have seen a steep year-on-year rise in ‘touch and go’ spending are: service stations, (218%), department stores (147%), discount stores (1205), hotels and motels (100%) and convenience stores (87%). 

The Great Scottish contactless spending spree 

The biggest leap in contactless across the UK is among the Scots, with areas north of the boarder dominating four of the top five spots. Orkney has seen the highest annual increase at 281%, followed by the Shetland Isles (239%) Dumfries (231%) and Kilmarnock (202%). This surge is driven by a combination of cardholders using contactless more frequently and an uptake in retailers accepting contactless as a payment method. In contrast London, where overall contactless usage is already the highest in the country, has seen a modest 45% increase, with almost six in 10 (57%) of all transactions up to £30 now made using the technology.

Significant uplifts across the rest of the UK include: Belfast (201%), Blackburn (179%), Sunderland (168%), Doncaster (165%), Aberdeen (164%), Salisbury (158%) and Cardiff (145%).

Tami Hargreaves, commercial director, digital consumer payments at Barclaycard, said: “The days of the weekly food shop are gone for many Brits. While a couple of hours spent browsing store aisles will always be preferred by some, there is a clear shift towards speed and convenience, coupled with several ‘top-up’ shops through-out the week. This change in consumer behaviour lends itself to the sharp increase in ‘touch and go’ we’re seeing in the supermarket sector.

“As grocery buying habits continue to evolve, supermarkets have an opportunity to make the payments process quicker and easier too. We all remember the days when tills were reserved for five items or less to reduce queuing times; in the future we may see contactless fast lanes or contactless-only check-outs in stores to speed up the payment process for time-pressed shoppers.”

In September, Barclaycard will mark the 10th anniversary of introducing contactless payments to the UK. When the technology was launched the maximum amount that could be spent in one transaction was just £10. This increased to £15 in March 2010 and £20 in June 2012, before rising to the current limit of £30 in September 2016.

In January, Barclaycard announced the successful launch of its contactless donation box trial with 11 national charities, including NSPCC and RNLI. The portable boxes, which are the first to accept Chip and PIN and contactless, were developed as it was revealed that charities may be missing out on more than £80m in donations each year by only accepting cash.