Whether it’s popping into the shop for a pint of milk or paying for drinks at the bar, people are increasingly likely to use a contactless card than cash.

In fact, a staggering 159m contactless transactions were made in February – equivalent to around 63 a second – data from the UK Cards Association reveals.

Overall, there were 1.182bn transactions using cards in February, compared to 1.071bn in February last year.

According to the data, the average contactless transaction has grown to £8.28, reflecting the impact of the contactless limit to £30.

Whether picking up a pint of milk or buying a sandwich, customers are consistently voting with their wallets

Richard Koch, head of policy, UK Cards Association
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In contrast, the average value of overall transactions declined, including those made specifically online and in shops, reflecting changing spending habits as consumers increasingly use their cards instead of cash for smaller purchases.

Online spending now accounts for 24% of all card payments, up from 22% a year ago.

Overall, £52.4bn was spent using cards in February, compared to £50.9bn in February 2015 – an increase of £1.3bn on the previous year.

Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, said: “With more than 60 transactions taking place a second, it is clear contactless card payments are becoming ever more popular.

“Whether picking up a pint of milk or buying a sandwich, customers are consistently voting with their wallets and using their cards as the predominant way of paying.”

Florists were image places that saw large increases in spending in February. Image by CandyBox Images/Shutterstock.com

Figures from the association, which is the trade body for the card payments industry in the UK, showed that debit and credit card spending made up three quarters – 77.4% – of total retail sales in February.

Retail sector spending decreased by £15m to £24.4bn in February, while service sector spending rose by £69m to £28bn.

According to the data, florists, aquariums and amusement parks were among the outlets that saw the largest increases in spending, reflecting occasions like Valentine’s Day and half-term.

The figures come after a report by The Co-op predicted that contactless payments on mobile phones will have outstripped cash within a decade.

The report on consumer behaviour and shopping trends showed that contactless use – by either bank cards or technology like Apple Pay – had trebled in a year, topping almost 11m transactions in a month.

It predicted that by 2025, 65% of all transactions will be by mobile phone, with bank cards and cash becoming a thing of the past like cheque books.