ATM value and volume figures for May 2023.
The following graph depicts the daily withdrawal value for May across the last four years.
The amount of cash taken from ATMs during May 2023 received a boost from cost of living payments and the lead up to bank holidays. Thus, apart from a post bank holiday dip the value withdrawn has remained remarkably consistent with last year.
Daily withdrawal volumes are shown in the graphs below with most of the month depicted across the two graphs. Although the value withdrawn has been in line with last year, volumes are consistently tracking below as people visit ATMs less often but on average are withdrawing more each time.
There was a boost in the volume of transactions in the lead up to the Coronation and second bank holiday weekend in May but quiet over the weekend as most people were watching the ceremony on TV. ATMs were also very quiet on the Monday itself with the variation more pronounced as this was a normal working day in the previous two years with 2020 still subject to some restrictions towards the end of the first Lockdown.
The following graph depicts the daily transactions leading up to the Bank holiday weekend at the end of May. The volume of transactions continue to track just below the previous two years although on the increase as the bank holiday approached. Comparison with 2022 is more tricky as last year was an odd one with the bank holiday moved back a week and changed to Thursday and Friday for the Jubilee.
The following graph shows the volume of ATM transactions on each Monday over the last 4 years.
The pattern for 2023 had been broadly in line – albeit tracking below previous years – with the differing and additional bank holidays in May the main cause of the variance seen.
And similar for Wednesdays the pattern has been similar albeit tracking below – ATM usage now back to normal after the boost from the cost of living support payment as shown in the graph below.
Weekly LINK ATM Transaction Volumes
Key observations for the week ending 28 May 2023:
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 5% 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 decreased by 4% when compared to the equivalent week in 2021.
During the week ending 28 May there was a total of 31.1 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 1.5 million ATM transactions over the previous week.
In 2023, there was a decrease of 0.9 million transactions or 3% when compared with the equivalent week in 2022.
Volumes and values had been relatively stable with both tracking below 2022 until around Easter. Since then values in particular had seen an increase with a boost from the cost of living payments and activity in general leading up to the bank holiday weekends.
During May, apart from the second week, values have continued to be slightly up on last year, with volumes slightly down. This seems to be the pattern at the moment with fewer trips to the ATM but on average more being withdrawn at each visit.
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.
During 2022 the volume of ATM Transactions was closely matched to the previous years when comparing similar conditions. Where there are significant variations this would have been when restrictions or Lockdowns had been in place in previous years with the only exception to this being the impact of the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral in September.
2022 and 2023 had been broadly in line with volumes and values recovering from the seasonal fall at the end of December with the impact of the weather during March probably the main cause of the divergence seen during that month.
The boost from cost of living payments can be seen towards the end of April on the graph below albeit only bringing the volume of transactions back in line with last year.
The volume of ATM transactions in May has also continued broadly in line with 2022 although the differing bank holidays with the Coronation weekend this year and the Jubilee last year makes direct comparison between the two years more difficult.
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.
The probable weather-related divergence in March can be seen with cost of living payments giving a boost towards the end of April. Further spikes have occurred as expected with the increased activity leading up to each of the May bank holiday weekends albeit still tracking just below the previous year.
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 since fallen again with values at 73% of pre Covid levels and volumes at 64%
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. This widened slightly to 5% lower in March with the additional impact caused by the snowy weather at the beginning of the month. Volumes in April 2023 were also 5% lower than 2022 although the value withdrawn was closer as people continue to take out more on each visit.
Volumes in May were 4% lower than 2022, perhaps boosted by the cost of living payments and the additional bank holiday during the month. Values in May were almost identical to last year however, with consumers continuing to take out more cash when they do visit an ATM.
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 during most months since restrictions eased in the Summer of 2021.
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.
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.”
For March 2023 the value of ATM Transactions has fallen year on year by 2% – this is again probably due to the weather at the beginning of the month as experience shows that withdrawals do not generally ‘catch up’ when the weather improves. Similarly the value withdrawn in April 2023 was 2% less than April 2022 with the increase seen at the beginning and end of the month not sufficient to offset the middle week when the value withdrawn fell by 9% (albeit 2022 was also leading up to Easter with 2023 being the week after so not strictly comparing like with like but the impact on the overall value of transactions for the month can be seen).
The boost from the cost of living payments and additional bank holidays during the month can also be seen for May with the value withdrawn almost identical to last year.
The total to date in 2023 also reflects the greater average amount withdrawn with each visit as although volumes are tracking around 4% below 2022, the decrease in the value withdrawn is less than 1%.
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. Once again the slight fall for March and April can be seen with both months tracking just below 2022 with the boost seen in May bringing the value back in line with the previous year.
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.
This increase of average withdrawal value can be clearly seen in the chart below with values over £80 this year which is up on last year and much higher than pre-pandemic 2019 and 2020. 2021 had higher average values but this was driven by the lockdown then in place.
In April, this was £82.40, only exceeded by the April 2020 which was in lockdown. For the year to date, transactions are down 4.0% while values are down 0.9%, on budget and forecast reflecting the higher average amount withdrawn at each visit.
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 at each visit.
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.