Weekly ATM value and volume figures 30 May 2021.

Key observations for the week ending 30 May 2021

  • Last week the volume of ATM transactions increased by 10% when compared to the previous week in 2021.
  • Last week the volume of ATM transactions increased by 23% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.
  • Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 38% when compared to the equivalent week in 2019.

Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes

Last week saw a total of 32.4 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 3 million ATM transactions over the previous week.

In 2021, there was an increase of 6 million transactions or 23% when compared with the equivalent week in 2020.

ATM usage remains ahead of 2020 with the equivalent period in 2020 still reflecting activity during the first lockdown albeit some relaxation in the restrictions had been seen. The volume of transactions this year had fallen below the initial peak seen in mid April when non essential stores and outdoor hospitality first re-opened – however the bank holiday weekend and good weather are likely to have been behind the month end spike seen in the last week.

Source: LINK

From Lockdown 1.0, 2.0, Tiers & 3.0 to the Roadmap out of Lockdown.

We continue to retain this graph within the tracker as it so clearly shows the steady decline in cash usage in 2018 and 2019 with a similar rate of fall at the beginning of 2020. This was followed by the steep drop at the start of the first lockdown as activity fell and many accelerated their use of digital and contactless payments. Had the year continued as normal, there would probably have just been another gradual decline in the volume of cash transactions and a gradual increase in the use of digital payments.

Source: LINK

This second graph also shows the trajectory during 2020 of ATM Transactions through each lockdown and the easing of restrictions.

In 2021 the volume and value of ATM Transactions were at firstly significantly below the equivalent months in 2020 and then increasing above the previous year as restrictions have lifted compared to 2020 when restrictions were at their tightest.

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Source: LINK

This next graph also reflects the initial impact from Lockdown 3.0 but a gradual increase from January to March can then be seen followed by the spikes at the end of March, mid April as restrictions were eased at each of these stages.

Data published by LINK on 6 May showed that following the easing of restrictions, compared to previous weeks in March an extra £200m had been withdrawn from cash machines across the UK per week. LINK’s Director of Strategy, Graham Mott had commented in this latest report“Overall, I think it’s a positive picture. We know cash use is traditionally higher in hairdressers, pubs and restaurants. We can see that cash use in pubs is already increasing. Perhaps we will have a better picture when locations that perhaps don’t have beer gardens are able to open as well. Additionally, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are a couple of weeks behind England, so are likely to see increased activity from those parts of the UK too.

We can now begin to see the actual results from this further relaxation in the hospitality sector with the increasing trajectory seen at the end of April and throughout May. The comparison over the next three months in 2021 compared to 2020 will be interesting – if the final date in the roadmap is achieved then many remaining restrictions will be removed completely, which may lead to a further divergence; if this final date is delayed then the existing conditions will remain in place which are similar to those which were in place over the Summer of 2020 and thus will allow a more direct comparison of cash activity across the 2 years.

Source: LINK

If the volume of transactions remain in line or just ahead of 2020 then it continues to look likely that the same floor in the number of transactions seen in 2020 will be seen during 2021. Thus, whilst digital payment habits were reinforced during each lockdown, we continue to expect to see a consistent underlying level of cash usage throughout this year by those who need to rely on cash or by those who choose to rely on cash.

Overall levels have been subdued compared to pre-pandemic levels as shown in the graph below – although volumes of transactions are now increasing at around 82% of pre-pandemic levels and values are around 74%.

Source: LINK

Daily LINK ATM transaction volumes

The graph below shows daily LINK ATM transaction volumes for each Wednesday in 2021 to date.

This daily picture shows a gradual increase from the end of January with a spike at the end of March and mid April co-inciding with the easing of restrictions on these dates . Initially, for the first few days after indoor hospitality and leisure reopened on 17 May it would appear that this did not initially lead to increased activity although the poor weather probably did not help – perhaps simply replacing outdoor activity with indoor. However approaching the Bank holiday weekend and with the weather improving the final Wednesday shown has the highest number of transactions so far this year – albeit as shown on all graphs – some way below the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Source: LINK

Source: LINK

Monthly LINK ATM transaction volumes

LINK transaction volumes and values in January and February were affected by the various lockdowns across the UK with the volume of LINK transactions down 46% and values 38%, when compared to January and February 2020. Restrictions were only introduced towards the end of March 2020 and thus volumes in March 2021 were still 26% below the number seen in March 2020.

The easing of restrictions has led to an 8% increase in April 2021 (when compared to March 2021) with the volume increasing to 123.2 million and similarly by a further 6% in May 2021 with transaction volumes increasing to 131 million.

With the volume and value of ATM transactions continuing to track ahead of 2020, we would now expect to see a gradual upward trend as restrictions are lifted further during 2021.

However the overall impact of the pandemic on cash transactions can also be seen with volumes in May 2021 43% lower than in 2019 and values down 34%.

Source: LINK

The total number of ATM transactions fell from 2608.4 million in 2019 to 1642.6 million in 2020 – a fall of 37%. The total as at the end of May 2021 for this year to date is 564.2 million – a fall of 22% over the same period in 2020. However the higher value per transaction is evident with values to date only reducing by 13%. With volumes and values now tracking ahead of 2020 this gap is expected to reduce over the remainder of the year.

Source: LINK

The graph below shows the impact of the various lockdowns in the average withdrawal amount which has increased during each lockdown – over the last 14 months the average has been £81, with the pre-pandemic average being £67. This would appear to be due to non essential trips being discouraged and this led to fewer outings and thus more cash withdrawn each time. With leisure and hospitality closed there were also fewer opportunities for lower value spontaneous cash requirements.

Lockdown 3.0 was no exception, with a small drop as restrictions have eased albeit average values are still very high compared to historic values.

With restrictions now easing we would expect the average withdrawal value to have decreased further when the graph is next updated.

Source: LINK

Predictions

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 did seem to have reinforced the digital habits developed during the year. This was again seen in the Tier 4 restrictions and throughout Lockdown 3.0.

With such a sharp drop in ATM transactions during 2020 a further shift from cash to digital may have been the expectation for 2021 but this still does not look likely – and we are now seeing the volume and value of ATM transactions increasing year on year as restrictions are lifted.

Although more may move to digital solutions over time, a considerable number are still reliant on or are choosing to rely on traditional payment methods including cash. This is reflected in the consistent underlying level of ATM cash transactions seen and for 2021 at least a further significant year on year change is not expected to occur.

Rolling volume change (compared to 2020)

  • w/e 11 April: +24%
  • w/e 18 April: +48%
  • w/e 25 April: +31%
  • w/e 2 May: +31%
  • w/e 9 May: +19%
  • w/e 16 May: +20%
  • w/e 23 May: +13%
  • w/e 30 May: +23%

Rolling value change (compared to 2020)

  • w/e 11 April +39%
  • w/e 18 April +59%
  • w/e 25 April +36%
  • w/e 2 May: +36%
  • w/e 9 May: +26%
  • w/e 16 May: +23%
  • w/e 23 May: +1%
  • w/e 30 May: +23%

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