Retailers without card and contactless payments losing out on crucial Christmas trading, EE research shows

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Retailers could be missing out on crucial Christmas trading if they're not able to offer card payments, new research from EE reveals. Four in five (80 per cent) shoppers in the UK expect to be able to pay for goods using their credit or debit cards, but a quarter (25 per cent) have been forced to abandon transactions due to a lack of card facilities, equivalent to almost 13 million shoppers.

An additional challenge for many small retailers in particular is the increasing popularity of contactless payments. EE's research reveals that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of shoppers prefer to use contactless because it is easier, and 29 per cent prefer paying via contactless because it's speedy.

According to data from the UK Cards Association, in December last year spending on cards totalled more than £49bn through more than a billion purchases, a 6.4 per cent annual growth rate over the same month the previous year. EE's research indicates that retailers who can't process card payments are letting one of the heaviest spending periods of the year pass them by.

The research also reveals that Brighton is the top location where customers say they use their card for the majority of their transactions, at 72 per cent. Surprisingly, London sits in the lower half of the list, with just 61 per cent saying they use their card for most transactions.

The full regional breakdown is as follows:


Proportion who use card for most transactions



York 71%


Norwich 65%
Bristol 63%
Nottingham 62%
London 61%
Manchester 58%
Cardiff 56%
Edinburgh 53%
Newcastle 51%

EE is supporting retailers during this crucial Christmas period with two offers designed to help make card payments easier to process and manage. EE’s 4G Pop-Up bundle and Connected Retail provide retailers, from pop-ups and Christmas markets to established retailers, with flexible 4G point of sale and card payment capabilities. The systems are quick and easy to set up, and Connected Retail offers a full featured and professional retail POS system at a fraction of the cost, saving up to 80 per cent compared to traditional POS systems.

Both the Pop-Up bundle and Connected Retail feature the iZettle Pro Contactless card reader, allowing businesses to securely process chip and pin, contactless card, and contactless mobile payments over superfast 4GEE. Connected Retail provides businesses with a 4G tablet and the Shopwave intelligent POS app, allowing retailers to monitor sales performance, manage products and stock, and dynamically create promotions and discounts.

Mike Tomlinson, director of small business at EE, said: “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.”

Case study

Hang Fire Smokehouse is a southern-style barbeque company based in Cardiff, Wales, which is using EE’s 4G Pop-Up bundle. They are a small food business comprised of two co-owners, and one of their busiest trading periods is during the Christmas shopping season where their ability to provide card payment facilities is crucial.

Shauna Guinn, co-owner of Hang Fire Smokehouse, commented: “This Christmas is by far the busiest yet for Hang Fire Smokehouse. Pop-ups, street food events and Christmas markets are the order of the day. In the three days before Christmas we will be selling from an old local butchers shop with no phone line, broadband or cash point, so it's crucial that we can take card payments. We are a small artisan food business where every penny counts, and we couldn't survive the festive season without card payments. Cash is becoming a thing of the past as so many customers want to and expect to pay with cards. We now use EE’s 4G Pop-up bundle which enables us to take card payments, where previously we've had to turn customers away by only taking cash. We knew we had to invest in the technology to capitalise on every possible sale.”

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