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Retailers must prepare themselves for m-payments as mobile-centric students descend on towns and cities across the UK

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Some 36% of students want to pay for goods with their smartphones, a survey by Vista Retail Support has found. The latest research is a timely reminder to retailers to do their homework and prepare their shops and staff to accept mobile payments as a record number of students are starting universities this month.

According to ONS data, students spent more than £30 billion in 2015. This is expected to increase to £37 billion by 2020, revealing how much retailers stand to gain by appealing to the student demographic.

The Vista survey, which was conducted shortly after the release of Google’s Android Pay app, also found that smartphone payment systems are almost as popular with students as contactless cards, which are owned by 71% of students, despite having been available for a much shorter span of time.

Surprisingly, the survey also found that only 9% of students currently possess a form of wearable technology, despite the hype around wearables as the ‘new gadget’ for tech-savvy students. 96% of students prefer to use cash, mobile or cards to pay for goods, with only 4% choosing wearable technology as their preferred method of payment.

James Pepper, technical service director at Vista asked: “if this is due to lack of affordable wearables or retailers not offering payment through this method?”

He continues: “Although many retailers are fully equipped to accept contactless payments we are finding that both in-store colleagues and customers are unaware of this and as a result are missing out on lucrative sales. The key to unlocking this revenue stream is by educating staff on the store’s payment capabilities and making students aware that contactless payment is welcome.

“As retailers prepare for the annual influx of students, they must ensure they can cater to this valuable demographic and turn them into loyal customers. With the right solutions in place, canny retailers can ensure they are top of their class in the eyes of student shoppers,” he says.

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