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Cash has become the least popular major payment method for the first time, figures from the British Retail Consortium show.

The use of physical money has fallen behind both debit and credit cards as the UK heads towards becoming a cashless society.

In 2018, cash was used for 20.4pc of the £381bn spent on purchases, the lowest proportion ever, according to the latest figures. Debit cards were used for 56.8pc of transactions, and credit and charge cards for 21.5pc.

“Non-card transactions” via PayPal or store cards made up 1.3pc of all purchases.

In 2017, cash was used for 22pc of purchases, more than credit and charge cards at 20.8pc, while debit cards were still the most popular payment method at 54.9pc.

In 2013, cash was used by shoppers for 27.6pc of all purchases, compared with credit cards at 21pc and debit cards at 49.6pc.