Weekly ATM value and volume figures 19 September 2021.
Key observations for the week ending 19 September 2021:
- Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 1% when compared to the previous week in 2021.
- Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 3% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.
- Last week the volume of ATM transactions decreased by 36% when compared to the equivalent week in 2019.
Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes
Last week saw a total of 31.5 million ATM transactions which represents a decrease of 0.2 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2021, there was a decrease of 1.0 million transactions or 3% when compared with the equivalent week in 2020.
Thus the volume of ATM transactions has tracked very closely to 2020 over the Summer period, 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. Many had also begun to return to offices at this point last year as in the case in the current year providing a similar boost across both 2020 and 2021.
Although restrictions have now been lifted, many people are still proceeding with caution and social distancing remains in place in many outlets and venues. This has limited the uplift which may otherwise have been expected and at present volumes seem to have settled just below that seen last year.
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 mid April as restrictions were eased at each of these stages and increased activity over the May bank holidays with fairly consistent volumes seen since that time.
Since July activity has been very closely matched indeed across the two years. The volume of ATM transactions in the previous five weeks had remained either plus or minus 1% of the volume seen in the equivalent weeks in 2020 – over the last week this has again dropped a little more to 3% lower although values remain more in line.
As stated in the recent LINK 2020/2021 Annual report, consumers’ overall need for cash has reduced and is changing but many people use cash and LINK’s own research shows that more than half of people have used cash in the past two weeks, even if 48% are expecting to use less cash in future.
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.
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 currently back to c.72% of pre-pandemic levels. A similar picture is seen for transaction values – at 78% 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 transaction volumes for each Tuesday since the beginning of the year – and for the equivalent period in 2020 and 2019. ATM transactions first pulled ahead as restrictions eased earlier in 2021 – but then continued to track very close to those in 2020 – although consistently still around 35-40% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
The following graph shows the daily transactions in recent weeks compared to 2020 and 2019. The similarity to 2020 can clearly be seen although last Tuesday (14 Sept) the rain seemed to be a deterrent.
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 two months the average value has increased again. 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 3% compared to 2020. In addition, although the value of transactions has dropped below the equivalent week in 2020 this is still by less than 1% and thus values also seem to have stabilised at the current level.
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 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%
- w/e 12 Sep: -2%
- w/e 19 Sep: -3%
Rolling value change (compared to 2020)
- 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%
- w/e 12 Sep: +0.2%
- w/e 19 Sep: -0.6%