ATM value and volume figures for January 2023.
Daily LINK ATM transaction volumes:
The following graph depicts the daily withdrawal value across the last four years.
The amount of cash taken from ATMs in recent weeks has been remarkably similar to the equivalent day in 2022.
Daily withdrawal values had continued to be almost identical for the 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 then 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23rd December saw £448m withdrawn making it the busiest day for cash since the start of the pandemic back in March 2020.
The following graph shows the LINK Scheme Ltd ATM transaction volumes for every Wednesday in the last 4 years. The latest shown was very close to last year, above 2021 (which was in Lockdown) but well below pre-COVID19 2020.
Weekly LINK ATM Transaction Volumes
Key observations for the week ending 29 January 2023:
The volume of ATM Transactions decreased by 33% when compared to the final week before the first COVID lockdown.
- The volume of ATM transactions increased by 8% when compared to the previous week.
- The volume of ATM transactions decreased by 3% when compared to the equivalent week in 2022.
- The volume of ATM transactions increased by 16% when compared to the equivalent week in 2021.
Last week there was a total of 28.4 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 2.2 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2023, there was a decrease of 1.0 million transactions or 3% 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.
Following the impact from 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 but both are now 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.
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. From the end of March until the Summer, the overall weekly volume of ATM transactions was above both 2021 and 2020 given the lockdown restrictions in place for the equivalent weeks in both of the previous years.
Since the beginning of August the years have still been closely matched but the volume in 2022 was 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 throughout 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.
Throughout January volumes continued to recover as expected – just below last year’s but 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%.
ATM values and volumes have fallen again with values at 73% of pre Covid levels and volumes at 64%
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.
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 August’s 137 million transactions were 2.4% lower than last year’s and 3.4% below August 2020. Since that time the volume of transactions has tracked just below 2022 apart from the boost in November from the cost of living payments
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 continued to track below 2021.
As expected this trend has continued into 2023 with volumes in January 2023 3% lower than the same period in 2022.
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.
Like volumes, however, the value of transactions in 2022 was just ahead of the previous year until August with values tracking below 2021 for August, September and October. Values then pulled just ahead again in November from the cost of living payments and in December from the boost in the week leading up to Christmas Day.
Overall the value of ATM Transactions increased from £79 billion in 2021 to £83 billion in 2022 and January 2023 in turn has also seen values just slightly ahead of the previous year.
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.
The £6bn in cash taken from ATMs in January was almost identical to last year, above 2021 (which was in lockdown) but below pre-COVID 2019 and 2020.
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.
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 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 been tracking just below the previous year since August but values have held up reflecting the higher average amount withdrawn.
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.