05 May 2021

ATM withdrawals jump as lockdown restrictions ease

05 May 2021

Cash machine use has jumped as lockdown restrictions have eased at different rates across the UK, according to ATM network Link.

Compared with early April, an extra £200 million is now being withdrawn from cash machines across the UK per week, it said.

With non-essential retail starting to reopen, 250 ATMs mostly located within sites that were closed due to lockdown are now working again.

However, ATM transactions are still only at 65% to 70% of where they were just before the crisis, Link said.

A consumer survey for Link carried out in late April this year found about two-thirds (65%) of people said they had used cash in the past two weeks.

In mid-January the figure was just over half (53%).

The places where people are most likely to use cash are convenience stores, supermarkets and paying friends and family. Cash used to pay for personal care services such as hairdressers has increased in the most recent data, as well as for building services such as gardening or window cleaning.

About one in six (15%) people said they are avoiding cash because of fear of catching or passing on Covid-19, Link found.

This is despite research from the Bank of England having indicated the risk of catching coronavirus from banknotes is low.

More than two-fifths (44%) of people said they think they will use less cash in future than they did before the pandemic.

Link’s director of strategy Graham Mott said: “This time last year, the UK was under a strict national lockdown, therefore ATM use is up considerably when compared to last April and is at a similar level to July 2020, when things were starting to reopen again.

“Overall, this confirms the ongoing importance of cash for many people and businesses. We know cash use is traditionally higher in hairdressers, pubs and restaurants.

“We can see that cash use in pubs is already increasing. Perhaps we will have a better picture when locations that perhaps don’t have beer gardens are able to open as well.”

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