Post Office cash withdrawals reach record high before Christmas


By Sam Gruet

Business reporter, BBC News

Post Offices saw a record high for personal cash withdrawals on a single day on Friday 22 December, the group said.

It said that £62m was withdrawn as many did last minute shopping and readied cash gifts for Christmas day.

It beat last year’s high of £51.5m, taken out over the counter on Friday 23 December.

The group has previously said cash helps people with day-to-day budgeting during the cost of living crisis.

Meanwhile, on Christmas day, £800,000 in cash was withdrawn by personal account holders, and over a million pounds was deposited by them.

Deposits from business customers over the counter were just over £1m, according to the Post Office.

Ross Borkett, the Post Office’s head of banking said: “For some people, being able to withdraw cash for free helped them to finish last-minute shopping for the big day, for others it may have been a last-minute gift.

“Business cash deposits being made on Christmas Day indicate just how vital it is that pub and restaurant owners have somewhere open and convenient to deposit their much-needed Christmas cash takings ahead of a quieter January”, Mr Borkett added.

The UK’s biggest cash machine network, Link, said the last Friday before Christmas had been the busiest day of the year for withdrawals, and the largest single-day total since before the pandemic.

Around £460m was taken out on Friday December 22 – the last working day before Christmas for many people – ahead of a four-day break.

The average value of a withdrawal on that day was just under £105, according to Link.

Graham Mott, Link’s strategy director, said: “With many travelling over the Christmas weekend, people visited ATMs to stock up and to undoubtedly use it to give as presents.”

The Post Office typically handles around £3.3bn in cash every month. In November, it said it saw the highest amount of personal cash withdrawals all year.

The group has previously revealed that with the rising cost of living, more people are using cash to manage budgets – often day-by-day.

It also previously stressed that leisure and hospitality businesses relied on its branches to deposit cash, especially in communities where bank branches have been shut down. There are more than 11,500 branches around the UK.

Cash comeback?

In September, retailers reported an increase in cash use, with purchases made with notes and coins last year growing for the first time in 10 years.

The British Retail Consortium said 19% of purchases were made with notes and coins last year, up from 15% the previous year. It said the increase had been fuelled by shoppers keeping a close eye on their budgets while prices rise.

Around the same time, banking trade body UK Finance also reported that cash use had risen for the first time in a decade, pointing to the financial impact of rising prices.

But it said it expected cash use to decline over the coming years, once the current financial squeeze had eased.

The UK’s financial watchdog has proposed new rules to help maintain access to cash, saying free withdrawals and deposits will need to be available within one mile for people living in urban areas and within three miles for rural areas.

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