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£1.3bn withdrawn for last Christmas shopping weekend, says ATM network Link

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

Christmas shoppers withdrew £572 million in total from ATMs on Friday December 20 – making it the busiest day of the year, according to cash machine network Link.

Many people will have been making a last-minute dash to do their Christmas shopping, or celebrating the end of their last working day of 2019 in pubs and bars with colleagues before heading off for the festive holidays.

Link said that between Friday December 20 and Sunday December 22 – the last shopping weekend before Christmas Day – a total of £1.3 billion was withdrawn.

  • Friday December 20 2019 - £572 million
  • Friday December 21 2018 - £701 million
  • Friday December 23 2016 - £730 million

But the bumper withdrawals seen last Friday fell short compared with the highs seen in some previous years, as cash use diminishes.

People are increasingly swiping their contactless cards in shops, pubs and bars where once they may have used cash, or use their cards to make purchases online.

Link’s busiest ever day was Friday December 23 2016 – when £730 million was withdrawn from its machines.

Last year, Friday December 21 was the busiest day for Link, with £701 million dispensed.

ATM and bank branch closures have fuelled concerns about the continued availability of cash. Link recently set up a “request an ATM” service enabling communities to ask directly for cash machines to be installed in their area.

Banks have also been looking at ways to boost the availability of cashback schemes involving local shops.

Graham Mott, director of strategy, Link, said: “Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for ATMs, with shoppers hitting the high streets and revellers heading for pubs and clubs for their Christmas parties.

“Consumers’ shopping habits are changing fast with many now buying their presents online or looking for early Black Friday deals.

“However, cash is still an important part of Christmas spending and everyone can rest assured that the cash machines will be well-stocked for any last-minute presents and to tie people over the festive season.”