Small businesses in the UK are losing out on more than £8.8bn ($11.4bn) each year by not accepting credit and debit card payments – an 18% increase compared to two years ago.

According to research from Barclaycard, one in two SMEs (49%) does not accept credit and debit cards even though this is the preferred way of payment for 70% of shoppers. Despite knowing this, 17% of SMEs have no plans to introduce electronic payments any time soon.

Sharon Manikon, Barclaycard Director of Customer Solutions commented: “Today’s time poor, busy shopper wants to pay quickly and easily and SMEs who don’t capitalise on this demand are likely to miss out on an increasing number of sales each year."

Over a third of shoppers (37%) carry less than £10 in cash with the average UK adult now carrying less than £25 in cash. Today’s figures demonstrate the rapid pace at which consumers are turning away from cash-only businesses in favour of more convenient methods.

A third of UK adults (32%) would consider walking away from a retailer if they could not pay by card and a quarter (24%) has done so in the last 12 months.

Furthermore, 44% of shoppers pay by card more frequently than they did 12 months ago. The total monthly card spend in the UK reaching an all-time high of £52.6bn and year-on-year contactless spending also doubling, paying with card is now the norm for the majority of consumers

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“With the right technology in place, SMEs can ensure they’re keeping up with their competitors while preventing valuable customers from going elsewhere – a win-win for both shoppers and shopkeepers," Manikon explained.

SMEs do acknowledge that failure to accept a range of payments is putting their business at risk, with two-thirds (64%) recognising that choice is important to their customers. However, 21%, have put off installing electronic payment terminals because they believe it is too expensive, while 11% worry that the process would be too difficult to set-up.

Manikon assured: “Small businesses can easily buck this trend by accepting credit and debit card payments, which contrary to the concerns of some, are simpler and more cost-effective to set up than ever before.”