87% of students prefer to pay with cards over cash

87% of students prefer to pay for goods using debit and credit cards, either contactless or Chip and PIN, a survey by Vista Retail Support has found. This is why it’s timely for retailers to do their homework and be prepared for contactless payments.  

The annual influx of students returning from summer holidays provides a crucial boon for the retail and hospitality industries operating in educational centres throughout the UK. According to ONS data, students spent over £30 billion in 2015 alone. This figure is expected to rise to £37 billion by 2020, revealing how much retailers stand to gain by appealing to the student demographic.

This survey of students reveals that contactless payment cards (39%) have now surpassed Chip and PIN cards (35%) as the preferred payment method among students, followed by smartphone/wearable payment systems and cash (both 13%).

Students’ main reason for choosing contactless is that it is quicker (90%) than any other form of payment. Students also prefer to use contactless cards because they eliminate the need to carry cash (46%) and make it easier to keep track of spending (18%), both of which could apply to Chip and PIN cards as well.

But the survey revealed a gulf between students’ preference and choice. Chip and PIN payment cards remain the most common method of payment at 45%, followed by contactless payment cards, which only 36% of students said they use most often when shopping in-store. This suggests that the options retailers are providing don’t reflect the preference of students, 46% of whom said they would be more likely to frequent a business that offered reliable payment via contactless cards.

13% of those surveyed said they would avoid a shop altogether if contactless payments weren’t accepted, while 52% said they would avoid a shop if it did not enable payment by cards in general.

“New forms of payment, particularly contactless cards, are proving to be incredibly popular with young shoppers,” said James Pepper, technical services director at Vista. “With schools and universities starting the new term, retailers who aren’t able to cater to this valuable demographic risk losing out on top marks from students.

“Our survey shows a significant shift in how students are choosing to pay for their goods and how they’re willing to avoid retailers who don’t allow room for choice. For canny retailers who have put the right solutions in place, however, the potential gains could be huge as local students become loyal customers.”

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