August bank holiday weekend sees cash demand grow

London, 31 August – Brits have again splashed the cash during this August bank holiday weekend, with ATM withdrawals growing compared to last year, despite current headlines about the ‘demise of cash’. This is shown by figures from the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) and LINK, the UK’s cash machine network.  The figures confirm that total cash use continues to grow and remains more popular than any other payment method in the UK.

Friday 25th August (payday) was by far the most popular time for a trip to the cash machine, as we withdrew £608 million on that day alone, up £4m compared to 2016. With an increase of £9m, Saturday’s withdrawals also rose to a total of £485m. Overall, the total value of LINK cash withdrawals registered for the whole weekend rose by £6m to £1.656 billion.

While a wave of staycationers are taking to Britain’s cities, countryside and sea-side towns, the ATMIA predicts that a flood of cash-loving overseas visitors will make August a record month for cash withdrawals by foreign tourists as well: last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) forecast that 2017 will be a record year for foreign visits and tourism spend in the UK, with the total number of visits predicted to reach 39.7m (up 6% compared to 2016) and over 4 Million expected in August alone. At the same time, spending by overseas visitors will increase by 14% to reach £25.7bn, fuelling local economies in rural areas as well as the top tourism hotspots London and Edinburgh, which received 19.1m and 1.7m visitors in 2016 respectively. In 2016, 4m French travellers topped the list of holiday makers visiting the UK, followed by 3.5m visitors from the US and 3.3m Germans.

Comparatively, US citizens also led the charge when it comes to holiday spending in the UK with a total of £3.4bn spent during their trips, while Germans and the French brought £1.5bn and £1.4bn respectively across the Channel from mainland Europe. The c. £600 that is spent by each tourist in the UK per visit goes primarily to local businesses in the leisure industry as well as high street retailers, who have seen rising numbers of touristshoppers due to the cheaper British Pound since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

The expected foreign spending spree will be fuelled by UK ATMs as cash payments continue to remain attractive to foreign visitors, bolstered by the fact that the UK boasts one of the most convenient ATM networks in the world since it grew to reach a record number of over 70,000 machines in 2014. Many visitors also have a natural preference for cash. Germans, who spent over £1.5bn during their trips to the UK last year, are among the ‘kings of cash payments’ in the world, choosing cash over card for over 80% of the purchases they make (Source: Bundesbank, 2016).

Ron Delnevo, Executive Director Europe at the ATMIA commented:

“Cash use is set to soar in August. The record numbers of cash-loving tourists, as well as British staycationers, will mean that our ATMs will be fuelling the local leisure industry and retailers like never before by making cash access for the visits of our guests as convenient as possible. The UK continues to welcome all these visitors with open arms, recognising just how important they and their cash are to the vitality of the UK economy”.