ATM value and volume figures for February 2023.
The following graph depicts the daily withdrawal value across the last four years showing the latter half of the month.
The amount of cash taken from ATMs in recent weeks remains below the pre-pandemic 2020 levels and ahead of Lockdown impacted 2021 and is tracking in line with 2022 most of the time. There was possibly a boost from the warmer weather at half term around 17 February compared to the impact from Storm Eunice in 2022. After a variance at month end withdrawals are again returning to their regular pattern.
Daily withdrawal values are shown in the graph below reflecting the divergence with pre-pandemic volumes in 2020 and the impact of Lockdown 3 restrictions in 2021. 2022 and 2023 transactions are broadly in line apart from the impact from Storm Eunice from 17 to 19 February understandably flattening demand for cash.
The following graph shows the LINK Scheme Ltd ATM transaction volumes for every Monday in the last 4 years – again above 2021 (which was in Lockdown) but well below pre-COVID19 2020. Whilst the pattern is in line with 2022 there are notable variances probably weather-related – if the weather is bad then trips to the ATM are postponed until later in the week.
Weekly LINK ATM Transaction Volumes
Key observations for the week ending 26 February 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 1% when compared to the previous week.
- The volume of ATM transactions decreased by 6% when compared to the equivalent week in 2022.
- The volume of ATM transactions increased by 9% when compared to the equivalent week in 2021.
Last week there was a total of 28.5 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 0.4 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2023, there was a decrease of 1.8 million transactions or 6% when compared with the equivalent week in 2022.
Volumes and values dropped significantly following the usual pattern at the beginning of the year. Both are now recovering as expected. The beginning of the month and half term saw a boost with volumes and values ahead of 2022 and both then dipped below again in the second and fourth week of the month.
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 had narrowed again following the lifting of restrictions at the beginning of December. However the gap has widened again with restrictions reinstated under Lockdown 3 impacting the first half of 2021.
2022 and 2023 continue broadly in line with volumes and values recovering from the seasonal fall at the end of December.
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 and February volumes continue 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 and February 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 and February 2023 in turn have 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 c. £6bn in cash taken from ATMs in January and February 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. In fact average withdrawal levels still seem to be increasing as shown in the graph below.
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.