Retailers are confident that shoppers will be ready come Valentine’s Day next year when Chip and PIN cardholders will have to use their personal identity numbers.

From February 14, 2006, customers who do not use their PIN may have their cards declined. Cardholders can only continue to sign if they have one of the small percentage of old-style cards which have not yet been upgraded.

A PR campaign entitled ‘I love PIN’, focusing on the February deadline, is to run for four months. It will include online information, a customer leaflet and pos material. Michael James runs Copplestone Stores in Devon. He told C-Store: “The only problem I can see is that there seems to be more and more security numbers for people to remember these days. Every so often a customer can’t remember their PIN, but I don’t think we’ll have a major problem in terms of lost sales come next February. I think everyone is resigned to the fact it is happening and I’m not worried about the future.”

Fellow retailer Shirley Jeggo, who manages a Spar store and Post Office in Braintree, Essex, echoed Michael’s views. “I would say 99% of customers know their PIN. We’ve found that most prefer using it. It is definitely paying off since we introduced it here and I think everyone will be ready for 2006.” The introduction of the Chip and PIN system in the UK has resulted in a 31% fall in counterfeit card fraud and a 27% drop in lost and stolen card fraud.

British Retail Consortium director Paul Smith said: “Our experience shows that most people have taken to Chip and PIN like ducks to water. They find it simple, quick and convenient. Now is the time to encourage those not using it to get ready to do so by February 14, so that we can drive even more fraud from our shops.”