Will you visit an ATM this week?

Weekly ATM value and volume figures 21 March 2021.

Key observations on the anniversary of Lockdown 1.0 as we look at the statistics from last week compared to the final week leading up to the “Stay at home” announcement on 23 March 2020.

  • Last week ATM transactions increased by 0.3 million (when compared to the previous week).
  • Last week’s ATM transactions were 10.8 million less than the equivalent week in 2020.
  • Although the impact from Lockdown 3.0 is continuing, during the comparative week in 2020 the government had advised that all non-essential contact should cease. This had already begun to impact weekly ATM use with volumes in 2020 decreasing by 6.1 million compared to the previous week. Therefore the variance between the two years has begun to narrow with the reduction in volumes between 2020 and 2021 now at 30%.

Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes

Last week saw a total of 25.5 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 0.3 million ATM transactions over the previous week. However in 2020 the volume of transactions decreased by 6.1 million in the equivalent week. We are now beginning to see a convergence between the two years.

In 2021, there was a reduction of 10.8 million transactions or 30% when compared with the equivalent week in 2020.

The overall number of transactions, although still significantly below that seen in 2020, continues to track slightly ahead of that seen at the beginning of Lockdown 1.0. Therefore, we may now begin to see volumes and values of ATM transactions in excess of those seen for the equivalent week in the previous year.

Source: LINK

Lockdown 1.0 & 2.0 vs Tier restrictions vs Lockdown 3.0 vs Roadmap out of Lockdown

The first graph below clearly shows the steady decline in cash usage in 2018 and 2019 with a similar rate of fall at the beginning of 2020 but then followed by the steep drop at the start of the first lockdown.

After Lockdown 1.0 the weekly volume of ATM transaction rose from a low point of 20 million to circa 30 million at the point we entered Lockdown 2.0. It then shows a further dip during Lockdown 2.0, although not as deep as that seen earlier in the year, followed by cash usage increasing again as restrictions were lifted in many places across the country. This increase was in line with seasonal trends albeit more muted than in previous years.

In the week before Christmas the volume of transactions was the closest to 2019 than had occurred since the first lockdown.

With Tier 4 restrictions in many more areas from Boxing Day, cash usage again fell sharply at the end of 2020 and at the very beginning of 2021.

Thus the impact on cash usage can be seen from the sticky digital payment habits developed over the course of this year reinforced during each national and local lockdown.

Source: LINK

This second graph shows the trajectory through 2020 through each lockdown and easing of restrictions and clearly shows the impact of each on ATM Transactions during the year.

Source: LINK

This next graph, including transactions in 2021, shows the continued impact of the closure of non-essential shops and hospitality venues and the discouragement of all but essential travel during Lockdown 3.0. Although the volume of ATM transactions is significantly reduced, the pattern to date is following that seen in previous years.

The volume has increased throughout January and February and now after falling back slightly in the first two weeks of March has again increased slightly over the last week. By contrast as people were urged, but not enforced, to cease non essential contact, ATM transactions in 2020 fell by 6.1 million in the equivalent week. At the moment with transactions in 2020 about to plummet further, the volume of transactions continues to track ahead of that lowest point seen at the beginning of Lockdown 1.0.

At the moment, therefore, it looks likely that the same floor in the number of transactions seen in 2020 will continue during 2021. Thus, whilst digital payment habits have been reinforced during each lockdown, it appears that a consistent underlying level of cash usage could be maintained throughout this year by those who need to rely on or choose to rely on cash.

In the report published by LINK on 17 March 2021 – One year on: how Covid-19 changed the UK’s relationship with cash – LINK’s Director of Strategy, Graham Mott, is quoted as saying: “Broadly speaking, we saw a huge reduction in ATM withdrawals in the first lockdown and even in the summer, when shops and traditional ‘cash heavy’ locations like pubs and restaurants reopened, ATM use went up, but never recovered to where it was this time last year. However, it’s also clear that most people haven’t stopped using cash entirely. Cash is still popular to use as well as helping those on tight budgets

Source: LINK

Source: LINK

Daily LINK ATM transaction volumes

The graph below shows daily LINK volumes at the start of 2021 when compared to 2020 and 2019.

Despite all the various restrictions in the previous week, 21 December saw £238 million dispensed from Link ATMs, which was the highest for a Monday since the beginning of March.

This was also being reflected up until the end of the year in the volume of transactions, with the number each day closely following the trend seen on the equivalent day in 2020.

However since then, although the trend itself is very consistent, the impact of the wider Tier 4 restrictions and then the commencement of Lockdown 3.0 can clearly be seen in the reduced activity compared to the beginning of 2020.

Source: LINK

Monthly LINK ATM transaction volumes

LINK transaction volumes and values in January were affected by the various lockdowns across the UK and the volume of LINK transactions was down 46%, and values 38%, when compared to January 2020.

Monthly LINK ATM transaction volumes for February fell back by a further 1 million to 97.5 million as the impact from Lockdown 3.0 continued. Therefore, although there was some recovery at the end of 2020, it is likely that the current lockdown will reinforce the digital payment habits as happened throughout each period of restriction in 2020.

That said, the volume and value of ATM transactions continue to track just ahead of that seen during the first lockdown and it may be that we could now start to see a gradual upward trend month on month during 2021, mirroring the recovery seen during 2020 each time restrictions were lifted.

Source: LINK


After Lockdown 2.0, cash usage increased back to pre-second lockdown levels but no higher despite seasonal spikes seen in previous years and thus it does seem to have reinforced the digital habits developed during the year.

At the end of the year, with Tier 4 restrictions resulting in the closure of non-essential stores and thus impacting traditional sales activity, we saw that these digital habits were reinforced again in the last week of 2020.

At the present time, during the third national lockdown, the volume of ATM transactions appears to have settled broadly in line with that seen in Lockdown 1.0. Indeed, as mentioned, at present volumes in Lockdown 3.0 are tracking slightly ahead of Lockdown 1.0.

If digital payment habits are further reinforced, we could see ATM transaction volumes fall again during 2021 although if this occurs it is likely to be a gradual reduction rather than the sharp drop seen last year.

However, if a further significant move to digital does not occur, we could see the volume and value of ATM cash transactions gradually increase throughout this year as restrictions are lifted.

Rolling volume change (compared to 2020)

  • w/e 31 January: -46%
  • w/e 7 February: -45%
  • w/e 14 February: -45%
  • w/e 21 February: -43%
  • w/e 28 February: -41%
  • w/e 7 March: -42%
  • w/e 14 March: -41%
  • w/e 21 March: -30%

Rolling value change (compared to 2020)

  • w/e 31 January: -38%
  • w/e 7 February: -35%
  • w/e 14 February: -37%
  • w/e 21 February: -34%
  • w/e 28 February: -34%
  • w/e 7 March: -33%
  • w/e 14 March: -34%
  • w/e 21 March: -27%

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