Weekly ATM value and volume figures 18 September 2022.
Key observations for the week ending 18 September 2022:
The volume of ATM Transactions decreased by 27% when compared to the final week before the first COVID lockdown.
- The volume of ATM transactions increased by 3% when compared to the previous week in 2022.
- The volume of ATM transactions decreased by 2% when compared to the equivalent week in 2021.
- The volume of ATM transactions decreased by 5% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.
Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes
Last week there was a total of 31 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 0.9 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2022, there was a decrease of 0.5 million transactions or 2% when compared with the equivalent week in 2021.
In the first few months of the year, volumes in 2022 were consistently greater than 2021 reflecting the differing conditions across the two years. The gap then narrowed as restrictions eased from April 2021 reflecting similar conditions across the two years.
Similarly the volume of ATM transactions had been greater in 2021 and 2022 than 2020 since March when we entered Lockdown 3.0.
Throughout August the volume of Transactions has been tracking just below 2020 as that year was boosted from the first week of the Eat Out to Help out Scheme following the relaxation of the restrictions after the first Lockdown. Similarly volumes have also been just below those seen in 2021. It is possible that activity last year was still benefitting from a boost given the restrictions earlier in the year – or more people are able to holiday abroad this year – or there has now been a shift in spending behaviour this year due to the current economic conditions. We will see whether the volume of ATM transactions in 2022 recovers over the next few weeks following the end of the main holiday period or whether a shift in behaviour has indeed occurred.
Through Lockdowns to Plan B, Plan A and now living with Covid:
This graph shows the impact on ATM Transactions throughout the first year of lockdowns in 2020 and initially at the beginning of 2021 with Lockdown 3.0. This was followed by a gradual increase in volumes in 2021 as restrictions eased throughout the Summer.
From the Summer months onwards activity across both 2020 and 2021 was very closely matched with the exception of the comparison with Lockdown 2.0 in November 2020.
In the first few weeks of 2022 the volume of ATM Transactions continued to track above 2021 but initially well below the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2020. Since the end of March, the overall weekly volume of ATM transactions has been above both 2021 and 2020 given the lockdown restrictions in place for the equivalent weeks in both of the previous years.
From mid April the graphs for 2021 and 2022 were beginning to merge as restrictions were reduced in April 2021. Apart from a spike over the early May bank holiday the gap continued to narrow following the further easing of restrictions which occurred in May last year with the three graphs merging at the end of July.
Since the beginning of August the trend has been closely matched but the volume in 2022 is tracking just below that seen in the previous two years.
This next graph also shows the trajectory of ATM Transactions with the graph also showing the timing of each lockdown and the differing level of restrictions in place.
In 2022 the volume of transactions can clearly seen to be increasing throughout each month to date and until the end of July consistently tracking above 2021 apart from one point in June.
Although still aligned, volumes since the beginning of August have tracked just below those seen for the same period in 2021 and 2022 and the bank holiday weekend was also about 3% quieter. The next few weeks’ activity, once the holiday period has ended, will show whether this is a temporary fall in the volume of ATM Transactions or a more permanent shift in behaviour.
The graph below from LINK shows Wednesdays’ transactions over the last four years clearly showing the fall in 2020 as the first Lockdown was announced.
The volume of ATM transactions continues to track just below the last two years including the month end boost at the end of August.
The following graph depicts the daily withdrawal value again across the last four years.
The last three years daily withdrawal values had continued to be almost identical following the lifting of the restrictions in 2021 and 2020.
As expected yesterday, given the bank holiday for the State funeral, ATMs were quieter with almost £100 million less withdrawn compared to the previous Monday.
The following graph shows a slight but definite increase in the percentage of balance enquiries. They always rose in lockdowns but is this a reaction to the cost-of-living with more people wanting to check their balances before withdrawing cash?
LINK, the UK’s cash access and ATM network, has published its latest data showing how people are responding to the cost of living and managing their day-to-day finances. For more than two years, LINK has been conducting regular research to help understand how cash use is changing in response to COVID-19. While most people and businesses are beginning to move on from the pandemic, this research, conducted in June 2022, looks to identify whether these attitudes are changing in the wake of the rising cost of living in the UK.
The research showed that 10% plan to save money by using contactless less and 9% intend to use cash more frequently. For this latter group, the most popular reasons for intending to use cash more frequently were that doing so
- gives them a better idea of how much they’re spending (63%)
- helps them to spend less (58%)
- helps them to keep track of spending (57%)
- and helps with budgeting (57%)
In relation to cash, 68% of adults in the UK have used cash in the past two weeks to pay for something. This is slightly lower than in February (71%) when the research was last conducted.
Graham Mott, LINK, Director of Strategy: “There really is a digital divide for those who are and aren’t comfortable using digital payments. For some, card and digital payments mean they can track all their spending online or on the mobile banking. Yet, for many, especially those on fixed or lower incomes, there is no better substitute for budgeting to cash. Not everyone has access to cards or digital payments and they know exactly how much money they have when paying in cash for the bus or in the local shop.”
Monthly LINK ATM transaction volumes
The table below again shows the impact of the first lockdown on volumes in March 2020 and the recovery and falls throughout the easing of restrictions and subsequent lockdowns which followed.
The total number of ATM transactions fell from 2608 million in 2019 to 1643 million in 2020 – a fall of 37%. There was a further fall of 7% in 2021 with the total number falling to 1522 million. However the majority of this fall was caused by the comparison with pre-pandemic levels at the beginning of 2020 – volumes fell by 40% when comparing January to March 2020 with January to March 2021. In the remainder of 2021 from April to December the volume of transactions increased by 8% as activity increased as restrictions were lifted.
With the activity in the first four months of 2021 impacted by Lockdown the monthly figures below show volumes increasing by 20% in January 2022, 21% in February 2022, 18% in March 2022, 10% in April 2022, 5% in May 2022 and 1.4% in June and 3% in July – a decreasing trajectory overall but with volumes in 2022 still ahead of 2021.
However, for the first time since the first lockdown monthly volumes in August were below both the previous years. We will see over the next few weeks if this is a permanent shift caused by the current economic conditions or the impact from many more holidaying abroad in August than in the last two years.
Volumes and values however remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels and there has clearly been a fundamental change in how some consumers are using ATMs and cash. However, even with this overall reduction in usage, around £7 billion has been withdrawn each month since restrictions eased from the Summer in 2021 falling back only slightly in the first months of the year which have always been more subdued but back on track in since March.
The value of ATM Transactions fell by 30% in 2020 compared with 2019. Although mainly due to the Lockdown conditions throughout much of the year there had already been a reduction seen in the first 2 months of 2020 with values reducing by 12% when compared with the first 2 months of 2019.
For 2021 the value fell by 32% for January to March when compared to the same period in 2020 but increased by 10% over the remainder of the year as restrictions eased.
The increase for January 2022 compared to January 2021 and February 2022 compared to February 2021 can again be seen given the differing conditions across the two years with values increasing by 17%. This continued into March with values increasing by 16% when compared with March 2021. With restrictions beginning to ease in April 2021 and further still in May the gap narrowed with the value of transactions increasing by just 4% in May 2022 when compared to the previous year.
With very similar conditions in place for June the difference has narrowed further with the value of transactions increasing by just 2% in June 2022 compared to June 2021. The weather perhaps boosted July a little with the value 3% greater than in July 2022.
However the value of transactions has also fallen in August 2022 compared to August 2021 with values being around 2% lower this year. Again we await the next few weeks to see if this is a permanent shift or a temporary impact given more have travelled abroad this Summer than in the two previous years.
The following graph highlights the impact of the Lockdowns during the pandemic but also the resilience of the underlying use of cash once restrictions were lifted.
Monthly ATM Volumes from March to June were very steady this year with very little movement across the months. 2021 and 2020 reflect the increasing transactions as restrictions were gradually lifted.
The volume of transactions in July 2022 were slightly ahead of 2021 and about 7% greater than in the previous month. Overall July 2022 was the busiest month since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Volumes and values have fallen back in August and this can clearly be seen in the two graphs below.
The following graph shows the quarterly cash withdrawals including on-us where customers use their own banks’ ATMs. The steady decline in usage from 2016 and rapid decline in the pandemic can clearly be seen. However, Q1 2022 is markedly up on the same period in 2020 and 2021 given the impact from the lockdowns during that time.
The average withdrawal value increased by almost £20 to over £85 during the first lockdown. Non essential trips were 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 ever since as shown in the graph below.
The average ATM withdrawal value in August is the highest seen for that month and continues to be significantly ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
Pre-pandemic average cash withdrawal values were around £68, with a boost in December as people took out more cash for Christmas, so this higher average value is a distinct change in consumers’ habits.
With such a sharp drop in ATM transactions during 2020 a further significant shift from cash to digital may have been the logical expectation for 2021 but the volume of ATM transactions remained remarkably consistent once restrictions were lifted.
This consistency has continued into 2022 and the graphs showing the volume of ATM transactions across the three years merged as expected during the Summer months reflecting the easing of restrictions in 2021 and 2020 and the similar conditions in place. Volumes have now fallen back slightly since the beginning of August compared to the previous two years. Whether this is temporary or a permanent change in behaviour, the difference is only marginal compared to the shift seen at the beginning of the pandemic.
This shows a considerable number are still reliant on or are choosing to rely on traditional payment methods including cash. Many are also turning to cash to help them budget as they manage the cost of living crisis.
‘Cash is still vital to so many people,’ says Nick Quin, head of financial inclusion at cash machine network Link. ‘Millions of people are choosing new ways to pay but, last year, on average, every adult in the UK still withdrew almost £1,500 from cash machines across the country.’
This is reflected in the consistent underlying level of ATM cash transactions seen as restrictions were lifted during 2021. With the general trends seen to date this year, we continue to expect to see a similar underlying volume of ATM transactions throughout 2022.