One in eight high street bank branches to close this year
By the end of December, more than one in eight bank branches open at the start of 2023 will have been closed as major brands withdraw from local high streets amid the digital revolution.
A total of 636 bank branches are due to be shuttered by the end of this year, Financial Times analysis of Link ATM network data revealed.
So far this year, 424 have been closed. However, another 42 branches have already been flagged for closure in 2024.
All-in-all given the spate of bank branch closures, it means almost three-fifths of the entire network across the UK will have vanished since 2015, with over 1,100 closing since May 2022.
This highlights a growing lack of cash infrastructure throughout the UK as digital banking continues its momentum, further fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
Banking giants approve closures
Based on closure announcements made this year already, here’s what’s happening at the major lenders:
- Barclays to shut 169 branches – a third of its entire network.
- Halifax to close in 57 locations.
- Lloyds to withdraw from 93 high streets.
- NatWest to shutter 97 branches.
- Virgin Money will close 40 branches out of its network.
Earlier this summer Nationwide renewed its promise no to close any branches, however, 24 have disappeared from the high street this year.
Regional disparities abound
Link data found that London will suffer the largest number of bank branch closures with over 100 having been shuttered or set for closure by the end of the year.
The South East followed the capital with just under 100 closures to be made during the same period. The South West will have experienced the third highest number of closures by the end of this year, with the East of England next in line.
‘Casualties of digital progress’
Founder and CEO of My Community Finance, Tobias Gruber, said: “It’s truly disheartening to witness the relentless wave of bank branch closures spurred by the pursuit of cost savings alongside the rapid embrace of digital banking. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly probable that even more branches will succumb to this trend in the upcoming year.
“As consumer preferences continue to gravitate towards the convenience of online and mobile banking, traditional brick-and-mortar branches risk becoming casualties of digital progress.
“Efforts to establish banking hubs in Post Offices, libraries and high streets offer some hope. Many of the major banks have also started to provide mobile pop-up services. Both offer access to banking services in communities without branches, although their rollout desperately needs to accelerate.”
Banking in a digital age
If your local branch is closing, you can visit Banking hubs which provide basic banking services such as paying in, withdrawing cash and paying bills. They also include counter services run by the major banks and the Post Office on a rotating basis, eg Barclays on a Monday, Santander on a Tuesday etc.
There are also dedicated rooms where customers can see community bankers from their own bank for more complicated matters that require specialist knowledge or privacy such as opening a savings account or questions around a mortgage. Any customer can use the Post Office desk any day it’s open.
According to Link, there are seven banking hubs open in Acton, Brixham, Cambuslang, Carmoustie, Cottingham, Rochford and Troon. There is also a temporary one open in Buckingham. Just recently, 10 leases have been signed for new hubs.
In total, Link has recommended 81 hubs – these follow bank branch closures or through a community request e.g. Link recommended one in Dawlish in Devon just this week after the council requested one. It is then down to Cash Access UK to deliver them.
There are an estimated 39,000 free ATMs across the UK and 11,000 Post Offices where customers can access and carry out basic banking services.