Published on 6 May 2021
New data from LINK, the UK’s main ATM network, shows since lockdown restrictions have begun to ease across England and latterly other parts of the UK, cash machines across Britain have been busy with transactions up 18% and £3.6 billion withdrawn since the 12th April. However, ATM transactions are still only at 66% of where they were just before the crisis.

Compared to previous weeks in March an extra £200m was withdrawn from cash machines across the UK per week. Additionally, with non-essential retail beginning to reopen 250 ATMs, mostly located within sites that were closed due to lockdown, are now working again.

Throughout the past 12 months, LINK has regularly been conducting research to understand cash use and how people are responding to lockdown restrictions. The most recent data from April 2021 shows:


  • 65% of people said that they had used cash in the past two weeks. In mid-January (the previous report) the figure was 53%.
  • The places where consumers are most likely to use cash are convenience stores, supermarkets and paying friends and family. As expected, cash used to pay for personal care services like hairdressers have increased in the most recent data as well as for building services such as gardening, window cleaning. Cash spending at pubs, restaurants and parking.
  • 15% said they are avoiding cash because fear of catching or passing Covid-19, which is 11% lower than before.
  • 44% of people said they think they will use less cash in the future in comparison to before the outbreak of Covid-19. 11% said they think they’ll use it more and 36% said they will use it the same.
  • Almost one quarter (23%) said they wanted to pay for something in cash but had to use a card as they were encouraged to do so (up 1%); 12% said that they wanted to use cash but as the place they were in was no longer accepting it, they didn’t make a purchase (up 2%).
  • In terms of ATM usage, 7% of people used an ATM 2-3 times a week, 19% once a week, 18% once a fortnight and 18% once a month. 24% said they used an ATM less often than once a month and 6% said they never used an ATM.

LINK’s Director of Strategy, Graham Mott: 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, I think it’s a positive picture. 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. Additionally, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are a couple of weeks behind England, so are likely to see increased activity from those parts of the UK too.”

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