January 12, 2021 12:01:00 AM
Some £640.7 million was withdrawn by people over the counter from Post Office branches in December, marking the highest monthly total seen during 2020.
The December personal withdrawals figure was up by 14% compared with £562.2 million withdrawn in November, according to the Post Office’s cash tracker.
After December, the next highest month for personal withdrawals seen last year was in March, the month of the first UK-wide lockdown, when £634.3 million was withdrawn.
Apart from March and December, the pre-lockdown months of January and February 2020 were the only other months last year when monthly personal customer cash withdrawals topped £600 million.
Personal cash deposits totalled £978.6 million, up by 1.3% on November, when the total was £966 million.
The run-up to Christmas traditionally sees increased cash deposits and withdrawals compared with previous months.
Overall, the Post Office said that cash deposits and withdrawals by personal and business customers combined amounted to £2.43 billion in December.
This was just under 10% down in value compared with a year earlier, despite coronavirus restrictions impacting small businesses and the cash-reliant hospitality sector in particular.
Martin Kearsley, director of banking at the Post Office, said: “December is traditionally a busy time for postmasters as more people come in to deposit and withdraw cash compared with any other month.
“This remained the case, despite Covid-19 restrictions in many parts of the UK at the time.
“Our data indicates that millions of people relied on cash, as withdrawals rebounded from November’s lockdown, and customers took cash out to give as gifts to loved ones or to ensure they had money for purchases in the run-up to Christmas.”