Consumer body Which? calculates that banks have closed 1,000 branches in past two years as online banking grows. HSBC has revealed that it is shutting more than four branches a week and that at least 57 more will be axed in the first few weeks of 2017. High-street banks have closed more than 1,000 branches in the UK during the past two years, according to consumer body Which?.
It has called on banks to consult with communities before implementing closures to ensure that the needs of their customers are being met. The organisation said its research had found that 1,046 bank branches were shut, or due to shut, between January 2015 and January 2017. It added that HSBC had axed the most branches over this period: a total of 321, representing a quarter of its network. HSBC told the Guardian it had closed 222 in 2016 alone, taking its current tally to 755.
The second largest number of closures, according to Which?, was at the Royal Bank of Scotland group, which has closed 191 outlets, followed by Lloyds Banking Group – which includes the Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands – with 180 branch closures, Barclays with 132, the Co-operative Bank (117, 53% of its entire network), Santander (87) and TSB (18).
The British Bankers’ Association reported earlier this year that the average high street bank branch dealt with only 71 customer visits a day – a 32% decline since 2011 – as consumers switched to online methods of managing money. However, the Campaign for Community Banking Services said it was concerned that branch closures were “proceeding at a faster pace than any alternatives that are being put in place to assist vulnerable customers”.
Which? said that 56% of adults used online banking last year, leaving about 20 million adults who did not use it. “Among them will be people who aren’t online and those with a poor broadband connection,” it said.
Guardian research has indicated that HSBC branches being axed in January 2017 include: Eccleshill in Bradford, Barnard Castle in County Durham, Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire, Lister Gate in Nottingham, Holbeach in Lincolnshire and Glossop in Derbyshire (all 6 January); Cowes and Shanklin, both on the Isle of Wight, Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, Rye in East Sussex and Cinderford in Gloucestershire (all 13 January); Malmesbury in Wiltshire and Whitchurch in Cardiff (20 January); and Shepton Mallet and Burnham-on-Sea, both in Somerset, Kingstanding in Birmingham and Nantwich in Cheshire (27 January).