Weekly ATM value and volume figures 5 September 2021.
Key observations for the week ending 5 September 2021:
- Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 3% when compared to the previous week in 2021.
- Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 1% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.
- Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 35% when compared to the equivalent week in 2019.
Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes
Last week saw a total of 32.5 million ATM transactions which represents a decrease of 1 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2021, there was a decrease of 0.4 million transactions or 1% when compared with the equivalent week in 2020.
Thus ATM usage continues to track very closely to 2020 volumes, which is not unexpected as the equivalent period last year still reflects very similar conditions – i.e. with non essential retail stores and indoor hospitality having re-opened.
Although restrictions have now been lifted, many people are still proceeding with caution and this has limited the uplift which may otherwise have been expected. In typical British style, the “Summer” weather during August 2021 may also have dampened activity a little.
In addition, during August 2020 the ‘Eat out to help out’ campaign was also boosting hospitality trade and may have contributed to 2020 volumes albeit the two years are still very closely matched. The latest figures reflect the last official few days of this incentive in 2020 although some outlets kept similar incentives in place for a further period of time.
From Lockdown 1.0, 2.0, Tiers & 3.0 to Steps 1 to 4 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 then followed by the sudden steep drop at the start of the first lockdown as activity fell and many accelerated their use of digital and contactless payments.
This second graph shows the impact at the beginning of Lockdown 3.0 and then a gradual increase from January to March followed by the spikes at the end of March and in mid April as restrictions were eased at each of these stages.
The spike at the beginning of May co-incided with good weather over the first bank holiday and whilst the results from the further easing mid May were also dampened by the weather, a further spike occurred over the second bank holiday and weekly transactions have settled around this level.
Since July activity has been very closely matched across the two years. The volume of ATM transactions in the previous five weeks has remained either plus or minus 1% of the volume seen in the equivalent weeks in 2020.
It therefore looks like this floor in the volume of transactions will be maintained during the remainder of 2021. Whilst digital payment habits were reinforced during each lockdown, there is a consistent underlying level of cash usage by those who need to rely on cash and by those who choose to rely on cash. Indeed, with the exception of a 2% reduction in both the third week in July and the last week of August, the value of ATM Transactions has remained either in line with or ahead of that seen since the first Lockdown in 2020.
This next graph also shows the trajectory of ATM Transactions through each lockdown and the easing of restrictions at each stage.
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 lifted compared to 2020 when restrictions were at their tightest.
Conditions are now at their closest over the two years with hospitality re-opening at the beginning of July 2020 and with businesses operating under similar restrictions to those currently in place in 2021. The convergence of the graphs shows a consistent level of ATM transactions and value across the two years under these similar conditions.
The overall volume and value of transactions had been subdued throughout each of the Lockdowns compared to pre-pandemic levels as shown in the next graph below. This graph shows the pattern as restrictions began to be eased with volumes back to c.85% of pre-pandemic levels. A similar picture is seen for transaction values – at 76% of pre-pandemic levels. Once activity can fully resume, it will be interesting to see the percentage comparisons achieved at that time.
Daily LINK ATM transaction volumes
Link have provided the following graph to show the daily transactions from the end of June to the third week in July. There was a definite post Euro-2020 dip on Monday 12 July – however the weekend then mirrored 2020 almost exactly as had much of the previous month. ATM transactions continue to track very close to those in 2020 – although consistently still around 35-40% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
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 although an increase was seen month on month , the actual volumes in March 2021 were still 26% below that seen in March 2020.
The easing of restrictions has led to increasing volumes month on month from April onwards with the monthly volumes also ahead of 2020. The gap had however closed in July reflecting the very similar conditions across the two years – in both cases both retail and hospitality venues had re-opened but with social distancing restrictions in place.
Volumes in August 2021 have fallen back slightly compared to last year – although as mentioned August 2020 may have been positively impacted as a result of the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme boosting hospitality expenditure.
The overall impact of the pandemic on cash transactions can still be seen with August 2021 volumes 38% lower than in 2019 and values down by 30%.
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 August 2021 for this year to date is 977 million – a fall of 13% over the same period in 2020. However the higher value per transaction is evident with values to date only reducing by 6%. Volumes and Values are expected to be in line with 2020 for the next couple of months but pull ahead again towards the end of the year (assuming a further lockdown in 2021 does not occur) and thus the gap should continue to narrow over the remainder of the year.
The graph below shows the impact of the various lockdowns in the average withdrawal amount. The average withdrawal value increased by almost £20 to over £85 during the first lockdown . 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. This was reinforced during each lockdown and the average withdrawal has continued to be high throughout the remainder of 2020 with only a modest fall last Summer.
This year, we had seen the average value fall once again as restrictions were lifted from March although the average value remains high compared to historic levels. Thus, while some restrictions remain in place this behaviour looks likely to continue – and indeed over the last month the average value has increased again reversing the trend seen over the last few months. Although it is still too early to see whether the pandemic has permanently changed consumers’ behaviour at the moment it does not look likely that values will revert to pre-pandemic levels once all restrictions are fully lifted.
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 given the volume and value of ATM transactions seen to date. Volumes in the last week have again fallen but only by 1% compared to 2020. In addition, since the end of March 2021 – apart from the third week in July and this last week in August – the value of ATM Transactions has consistently been in line with or above the levels seen in 2020.
Although more may move to digital solutions over time, we see that 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 reduction is not expected to occur.
Rolling volume change (compared to 2020)
- w/e 18 July: -3%
- w/e 25 July: -1%
- w/e 1 Aug: -2%
- w/e 8 Aug: -1%
- w/e 15 Aug: +1%
- w/e 22 Aug: -1%
- w/e 29 Aug: -1%
- w/e 5 Sep: -1%
Rolling value change (compared to 2020)
- w/e 18 July: -2%
- w/e 25 July: +0.4%
- w/e 1 Aug: +0.2%
- w/e 8 Aug: +3%
- w/e 15 Aug: +5%
- w/e 22 Aug: +2%
- w/e 29 Aug: -2%
- w/e 5 Sep: +1%