Nearly 60p of every retail pound goes into supermarket tills

Out of every pound that Brits spend on their shopping, 58p goes to the supermarket giants.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
It’s yet another nail in the coffin of the UK high street: not only are local shops struggling to survive the longest consumer downturn in living memory, but of the money that is being spent in retail, the lion’s share is going to the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

According to a new study by the Payments Council, the average spend in supermarkets in 2011 amounted to 58 in every pound, up from 46p a decade earlier. It’s the highest proportion of retail spend since records began. Hardly surprising as supermarkets maintain their aggressive expansion across the UK; just yesterday, Morrisons announced that it is to open 70 new convenience stores. And while supermarkets remain the most convenient and cost effective choice for consumers, that's unlikely to change. 

But while local shops are feeling the pinch, the entertainment sector has flourished over the past decade. Spending in restaurants and cafes has almost doubled between 2001 and 2011 and Britons spent a total of £58bn on entertainment over the decade.

The report has also flagged up changes in the way that consumers are spending money. Cash is no longer king (not the paper and shrapnel kind, anyway) as shoppers choose to flex the plastic instead. Just 30% of retail spending is now made with cash, down from 43% in 2003. And the majority of these cash purchases were (somewhat unsurprisingly) for payments under £5.

The Payments Council has also done a spot of future-gazing. Across the coming decade, debit and credit cards will be superseded by smartphone payments. ‘Recent innovations such as payment via a mobile phone, which ten years ago some felt to be science fiction, will soon be commonplace,’ says Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the PC. ‘The 2000s were the decade of the debit card. The 2010s are likely to be the decade of the mobile phone.’

As for the humble cheque book, give it 20 years and it will seems positively ‘archaic’ says the report. Probably, given we’ll all be paying for things via retina scan…

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