The number of retail customers writing out cheques for goods has plummeted by almost a half in Britain during the past decade - faster than in any other sector, a report by the UK payments association APACS has revealed.

The organisation said that, in 1996, 31% of shoppers had paid by cheque. By 2006, the figure had slumped to 16%, a fall of 48%. The report, The Way We Pay 2007, said: "In the retail sector, the decline has been particularly rapid, with cheques accounting for just 3% of all non-cash transactions."

However, APACS director of communications Sandra Quinn said there will still be an estimated 840 million cheques used in the UK in 2016.