Scots withdraw nearly £2.5bn less from ATMs during pandemic, new figures show


Consumers have withdrawn nearly £2.5 billion less from Scotland’s cash machines during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.

Link, the UK’s main ATM network, has published data that shows a 52% drop in Scottish cash machine withdrawals between April and September this year compared to the same period in 2019.

The £2.47 billion drop is the third highest across the UK after London (£3.09 billion) and the south-east of England (£2.7 billion).

Currently there are 4,000 free-to-use ATMs across Scotland and 1,200 machines that charge a fee.

In the early stages of the pandemic, about 600 ATMs were closed either due to being located in premises shut by government restrictions – such as shops, airports and pubs – or for social distancing purposes at railway stations or supermarkets.

Link suggests about 50% of these had reopened by September.

The figures also highlight the percentage decreases in UK Parliamentary constituencies across Scotland for the month of September.

Withdrawals were down 70.5% in Glasgow Central and 70.2% in Orkney and Shetland, while both Edinburgh East and Edinburgh North and Leith recorded a 66.4% drop.

At the other end of the scale, Glasgow North East had a decrease of 34.2%, with similar figures in Airdrie and Shotts (36%), Glasgow East (37.7%) and Rutherglen and Hamilton West (38.3%).

Nick Quin, head of financial inclusion at Link, said: “It is interesting to see stark differences in cash withdrawals across the country, most notably within Glasgow, but even from one town to the next.

“Some of this down to the fact that people aren’t visiting busy city centres or that the local ATM may have temporarily closed.

“More importantly, we can see that some communities are far more reliant on cash and quite often cards and digital payments don’t work for everyone.”

He added: “We’re delighted to see that the UK Government recently launched a consultation to protect access to cash.

“Covid-19 has changed payment habits, possibly forever, but cash still remains important and it’s vital we protect it.”