UK forecourts are ahead of many of their European counterparts in adopting the latest card payment systems, but they could still work them harder, according to new research by Datamonitor.

Its ’Retail Payment Mechanisms on the Forecourt’ report looked at card transactions across nine European markets and found that the UK had the most up-to-date terminals, with around 75% being less than two years old. Last year’s Chip & PIN roll out also meant that 90% of UK terminals are now compliant.

Average number of terminals per site across the nine countries was 2.5 but the UK was slightly ahead of that with 2.6. Here, 54% of forecourt sales transactions are card-based, with cash accounting for 34.4%.

The report concluded that forecourts need not just consider extra retail services to boost turnover and gain market share but they must also "effectively utilise payment transaction tools to drive efficiency".

David Niles, forecourt analyst and author of the report, reckoned retailers should take advantage of high card use in the sector by improving the speed and effectiveness of payment transactions. He said: "Simply accepting payment cards is not enough to drive efficiency; the number of payment terminals and their functionality must also be optimised."

The report also mentioned the decline in the number of forecourts across Europe.

It found that, as a result, in the UK the average number of cars serviced per site has grown from 1,961 vehicles in 2000 to 2,899 in 2005.