Weekly ATM value and volume figures 15 January 2023.
Key observations for the week ending 15 January 2023:
The volume of ATM Transactions decreased by 39% when compared to the final week before the first COVID lockdown.
- The volume of ATM transactions increased by 7% when compared to the previous week.
- The volume of ATM transactions decreased by 5% when compared to the equivalent week in 2022.
- The volume of ATM transactions increased by 17% when compared to the equivalent week in 2021.
Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes
Last week there was a total of 24.1 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 1.8 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2023, there was a decrease of 1.3 million transactions or 5% when compared with the equivalent week in 2022.
During the week ending 13 November many people received their cost of living payments from the Government which led to a spike in ATM usage and withdrawals.
The volume of ATM transactions also received a month end boost and were tracking just above 2021 with values again ahead given the increase in the average amount withdrawn. Both 2022 and 2021 had also remained ahead of 2020 during November due to the temporary lockdown conditions in place two years ago.
Following the poor weather at the beginning of December, the volume and value of ATM Transactions had recovered with both ahead of the previous two years in the week before Christmas – albeit still far below pre-pandemic levels.
Volumes and values dropped significantly following the usual pattern at the beginning of the year although volumes and values are continuing to recover again as expected.
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 years have still been closely matched but the volume in 2022 has been tracking just below that seen in the previous two years apart from the larger gap which reflects the impact of the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral in September.
There had been a temporary divergence with 2020 as lockdown conditions were reimposed in November 2020 but this narrowed again following the lifting of restrictions at the beginning of December.
The impact of the snowy condition and rail strikes had kept the volume of transactions tracking on or just below the previous two years in the first three weeks of December but the boost in the week leading up to Christmas Day can be seen in the graph. This is followed by the usual fall in the final week of the year with volumes continuing to recover in January following the normal trend.
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 August bank holiday weekend was also about 3% quieter. This appeared to be due to people cutting back on expenditure due to the cost of living crisis.
This is evidenced by the temporary boost when 8 million households received their cost of living payments leading to a spike in withdrawals as shown on the graph below. After the cost of living payment boost the volumes returned to normal although with a month end boost again seen in the graph below.
The fall in the volume of transactions in the initial weeks of December can be seen with the boost towards Christmas Day bringing volumes above the previous two years. This is followed again by a fall in the last week of the year as activity followed the usual trend for this time.
For the second week of January volumes are continuing to recover as expected – just below last year’s but 17% above 2021 when we were in Lockdown 3.
A milestone is shown in the graph below as boosted by Christmas, the value of cash withdrawn from ATMs finally reached its pre-pandemic level. The higher average value withdrawn is also evident as the volume of transactions is still only at 75%.
The following graph depicts the daily withdrawal value 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.
Following month end variances at the end of October, the value of withdrawals had settled down once again and was tracking very closely to the previous two years’
The cost of living payments received caused a temporary boost to the withdrawals in November 2022 with a reduction then seen once the bounce from the payments had subsided. However ATM usage as regards the value of transactions had picked up again with a £272m month end spike.
23rd December saw £448m withdrawn making it the busiest day for cash since the start of the pandemic back in March 2020.
In the last week withdrawal values were tracking in line with 2022 especially over the weekend. Values were ahead of 2021 (when we were in lockdown 3) but well below the pre-pandemic values at the beginning of 2020.
The following graph shows the daily withdrawal volumes over the last four years.
Volumes have been below recent years’ at the time the graph was produced with snow, strikes and the cost-of-living appearing to impact the need for cash.
The following graph shows the LINK Scheme Ltd ATM transaction volumes for every Wednesday in the last 3 years. The latest shown was very close to last year, above 2021 (which was in Lockdown) but well below pre-COVID19 2020.
The following graph showed a slight but definite increase in the percentage of balance enquiries during this year. This was possibly a reaction to the cost-of-living with more people wanting to check their balances before withdrawing cash. However the proportion of ATM balances fell to its lowest level in December since pre-Pandemic – possibly the weather deterring journeys but this still equates to a missing 1.3 million balances.
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.
August’s 137 million transactions were 2.4% lower than last year’s and 3.4% below August 2020. This contrasts with July’s figures which were above the last two years’.
September’s transactions were also 3% lower than last year’s and 4.4% lower than 2020 – although September 2022 was also impacted by the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral when many stores and outlets were closed. This pattern continued in October with the volume of transactions being 4.5% lower than October 2021 and 3% lower than October 2020.
November saw a boost in the volume of transactions due to the cost of living payments – but overall volumes were still slightly down on 2021 albeit only by about 0.5%. Volumes were 12% greater than 2020 but this was due to the impact from the lockdown conditions in that year.
In December wintry weather and rail strikes impacted the initial weeks with a boost in the final week failing to compensate overall and thus the volume for the month has continued to track below 2021 although it is just above the volumes seen in 2020 – albeit values have held up as shown below.
Volumes and values 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 at the beginning of this year as January and February have always been more subdued.
With restrictions beginning to ease in April 2021 and further still in May the gap across the last 2 years has narrowed since the beginning of the year with the value of transactions increasing by just 4% in May 2022 when compared to the previous year. With very similar conditions across the two years the gap narrowed again in June with values increasing by 2% in June 2022, compared to June 2021 and by 3% in July 2022 compared to July 2021.
Like volumes, however, the value of transactions has also fallen in August 2022 compared to August 2021 with values being around 2% lower this year. In September the fall in the value of transactions was just 1% compared to both 2021 and 2020. For October the fall in the value of transactions was 3% compared to 2021 but 0.3% ahead of October 2020. The cost of living payments however boosted November with the value of transactions ahead of 2021 albeit by just 2%.
Steady values withdrawn in December together with the boost in the week leading up to Christmas Day has led to the value withdrawn in 2022 being just ahead of 2021 and 7% higher than 2020 – albeit with the pandemic still a factor in both previous years.
Overall the value of ATM Transactions increased from £79 billion in 2021 to £83 billion in 2022.
Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK: “These numbers aren’t surprising. It’s easy to forget that there was quite a significant lockdown at the beginning of 2021 and therefore 2022 was the first year we’ve had since 2019 where there were no interruptions. What we know is that our relationship with cash and ATMs has changed. While many people are now happy to use contactless or digital payments, our research shows there are very few people that are completely cashless. We also know that people are visiting cash machines less often, but on average take out more cash.”
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 since August – with volumes falling back slightly more than the value of ATM Transactions. This can clearly be seen in the two graphs below.
The boost in November from the cost of living payments can also be seen in both graphs.
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.
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.
The average on Monday 19 December at £90.03 was the highest of the year so far.
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 fallen back slightly since August compared to the previous two years but with a higher average amount withdrawn the overall value of ATM transactions had been more in line over the same period – with a boost seen in the week ending 13 November following receipt of the cost of living payments by 8 million households.
Both volumes and values were then impacted again with the weather and rail strikes during the first few weeks of December keeping people inside and reducing the need for cash.
With the weather easing, a boost in the lead up to Christmas Day has seen a recovery in both volumes and values – with 23 December being the busiest day for cash withdrawals since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Volumes and values dropped in the week following Christmas and at the beginning of the year but this follows a usual pattern at this time continuing to recover through January as expected.
Thus a considerable number are still reliant on or are choosing to rely on traditional payment methods including cash.
‘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.’
Given this ongoing reliance and in the absence of any further significant shifts in behaviour we expect to see a similar demand for cash to continue throughout 2023.