ATM Tracker

Weekly ATM value and volume figures 27 November 2022.

Key observations for the week ending 27 November 2022:

The volume of ATM Transactions decreased by 29% when compared to the final week before the first COVID lockdown.

  • The volume of ATM transactions increased by 0.3% 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 increased by 8% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.

Last week there was a total of 30.1 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 0.1 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.

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.

Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK said at the time: “This week has been much busier than expected for LINK cash machines. The middle of November is normally pretty quiet, often not helped by the weather, but this week has seen as real boost to cash as consumers get their cost of living payments. We may well see some more spikes in ATM use going forward as more payments are due before Christmas.”

For last week the volume of ATM transactions are again back to normal and tracking just below last year continuing the trend seen since the Summer. However values over the last week have been exactly in line with 2021.

Both 2022 and 2021 remain ahead of 2020 – this is due to the lockdown conditions which were re-introduced in November 2020 and the gap is expected to narrow again in December when restrictions in 2020 were once again lifted.

Source: LINK

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 is currently a temporary divergence with 2020 as lockdown conditions were reimposed in November 2020 but it is likely that the gap will narrow again from December once conditions were lifted.

As mentioned above, there had been a spike in withdrawals following the receipt of the cost of living payments with the volume falling back again last week and this can clearly be seen in the graph below.

Source: LINK

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 this week’s ATM weekly volume figures are again back to normal – just below last year’s and above 2020 due to the impact from the lockdown in place at the time.

Source: LINK

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’

This continues to be the case for the comparison between 2020 and 2021, however the divergence with 2020 is now evident given the lockdown conditions re-introduced in November 2020.

The payments received caused a temporary boost to the withdrawals in 2022 with a reduction then seen once the bounce from the payments had subsided. However ATM usage as regards the value of transactions is now picking up again as we approach the end of the month and the key Christmas trading period as shown in the graph below.

Source: LINK

The following graph shows the daily withdrawal volumes over the last four years.

Since the boost provided from the cost of living payments in the week ending 13 November there has been some volatility in the daily ATM transactions with untypical figures seen over the last few days.

At the end of the previous week there had not been a week end uplift – this could have been the weather or the previous week’s boost meant people did not need to take out any further cash. Similarly, as the trend to less visits but higher withdrawal amounts continues, perhaps others were delaying a visit to avoid the rain?

This week has again been slower as regards the volume of transactions – Black Friday is never a cash event and it’s possible consumers’ spending this week was being channeled towards on-line bargains.

Source: LINK

The following graph shows the daily withdrawal volumes on Mondays’ over the last four years.

The volumes have been just below last year’s but well above 2020’s when we went into the November lockdown. The impact of the Queen’s funeral in September can be seen when most stores and outlets were closed.

This graph was produced last week and the final Monday shown was a very quiet day for ATM Transactions with the total being the lowest Monday of the year excluding Bank Holidays. There were a number of possibilities including the weather, watching the football World Cup matches, cash still left over from the cost of living payments in the previous week or indeed people waiting for the next payments.

Source: LINK

The following graph shows a slight but definite increase in the percentage of balance enquiries at the time the graph was produced by LINK. They always rose in lockdowns but this is possibly a reaction to the cost-of-living with more people wanting to check their balances before withdrawing cash.

Source: LINK

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. 

There are still around 1.1 million consumers who still mainly use cash when doing their day-to-day shopping and this has barely changed since 2020.

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.”

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.

The underlying pattern has continued in October with the volume of transactions being 4.5% lower than October 2021 and 3% lower than October 2020.

Source: LINK

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.

Source: LINK

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.

Source: LINK

Source: LINK

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 values are continuing to increase – now above the previous two years’ and 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.

Source: LINK

Predictions

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 has 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.

Thus 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 the remaining weeks of 2022 with a boost expected when each of the remaining cost of living payments are received before the end of the year.

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