Small businesses which refuse to accept card payments are missing out on £8.8 billion every year, new research has revealed.

The study from Barclaycard reported SMEs are losing 18% more than they did two years ago because of the increased consumer trend of paying by card.

Consumers now spend £52.6 billion using card payments in the UK every month. And 70% of shoppers prefer card to cash.

Only 49% of SMEs accept credit and debit payments, but 32% of UK adults would walk away from a retailer if they could not pay by card, with 24% having done so in the last 12 months.

Additionally, 44% of shoppers pay by card more now than they did 12 months ago, and the average UK adult now carries less than £25 in cash – 37% carry less than £10.

"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," said Sharon Manikon, Barclaycard's director of customer solutions. "Yet 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."

She added: "Through our 50 years of expertise in working with merchants to help them sell, we understand how important it is for businesses to find a payments option which suits their specific needs – but 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."

Despite the ongoing trend to use card over cash, 17% of small businesses said they have no plans to introduce electronic payment solutions, with 21% putting it off due to the expense, while 11% believe the process would be difficult to set up.

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