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%) shoppers in the UK expect to be able to pay for goods using their credit or debit cards, but a quarter (25%) 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%) of shoppers prefer to use contactless because it is easier, and 29% 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% 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.

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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%. Surprisingly, London sits in the lower half of the list, with just 61% saying they use their card for most transactions.

The full regional breakdown is as follows:

Region Proportion who use card for most transactions
Brighton 72%
York 71%
Birmingham 66%
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% 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.”