Published on 27 January 2021
Coronavirus lockdowns led to £81bn withdrawn in 2020 compared to £116bn in 2019.

New data published today by LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, shows despite a sharp decline of 37% in ATM transactions* in 2020, on average, UK adults still withdrew more than £1,500 each from cash machines in 2020.

In recent years, as consumers use alternative payment methods such as contactless cards or online payments, ATM transactions have fallen on average around 10% year-on-year. However, in April 2020, when the UK went into the first national lockdown, ATM transactions fell initially by up to 68%.

In spite of subsequent lockdowns, on average more than £1.6bn was still withdrawn for cash machines every week for the rest of 2020.

The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on ATM use and in total £81bn was withdrawn from ATMs in 2020 compared to £116bn in 2019, a fall of 30%. Additionally, consumers visited ATMs less frequently with 1.6bn transactions in 2020 compared to 2.6bn in 2019*, a 37 per cent drop.

Overall, adults each withdrew around £660 less in 2020 than in 2019 but the average withdrawal value was £78 in 2020 compared to £67 in 2019 as when they did visit an ATM, consumers took out more. Consumers in Northern Ireland withdrew the most (£2,124) compared to other regions. Scotland saw the steepest fall with adults withdrawing almost £900 less than they did in 2019. On average, UK adults visited ATMs 12 times less in 2020 than they did in 2019.


Withdrawal per adult (2019)

Withdrawal per adult (2020)

Change per adult

Northern Ireland












North West




Yorkshire & The Humber




North East




West Midlands




East Midlands








East of England




South East




South West









Overall, ATM numbers declined with many ATMs temporarily closing for social distancing purposes or in premises such as cinemas and pubs that are closed due to restrictions. Free-to-use machines fell from 45,300 in 2019 to 41,700 in 2020. Pay-to-use machines also declined from 15,300 to 12,600.

John Howells, CEO, LINK: “The Coronavirus has changed our relationship with cash. More people are now confident and happy to shop online or use contactless payments. Our research shows 75% say they will use less cash going forward.

“However, the sharp decline in ATM use brings significant problems. Cash machines are by far the most popular way of accessing cash, yet a 37% year-on-year drop in transactions places enormous strain on the cash infrastructure. As our data shows, despite the rapid decline in cash, millions of people still rely on it and aren’t ready or able to go digital. The good news is that the Government has said it will be bringing forward legislation to protect access to cash, but this is needed urgently.”

Back to top