60 bank and building society branches closing per month

Ulster Bank sister firm NatWest tops the closure list according to Which?
Ulster Bank sister firm NatWest tops the closure list according to Which?

Bank and building society branches are closing at an “alarming” rate of nearly 60 per month, according to Which?.

The consumer group said analysis showed that from the start of 2015 to the end of 2018, 2,868 branches have closed or are scheduled to do so - averaging just under 60 per month.

Which? said branch closures have been accelerating. It said so far this year 670 branches have closed or been scheduled for closure - putting 2018 on course to overtake the 879 closures in 2017.

While mobile banking trucks may visit towns and villages, they are not as convenient as a dedicated bank branch the group said.

Meanwhile mobile banking apps are not suitable for everyone’s needs and do not always give people easy access to their accounts, as TSB’s recent IT meltdown has shown.

Which? collected bank branch closure data by tracking closure announcements. It found that of the branch closures it looked at, NatWest has closed the most at 638 closed or closing by end 2018.

This was followed by HSBC (440), Lloyds (366) and RBS (350).

Looking at where bank branch closures have or are taking place, Which? said Scotland has been particularly badly hit, with 368 branches having shut since 2015, or being scheduled to close by the end of 2018.

Which? Money expert Gareth Shaw said: “Bank branch closures are happening at an alarming rate - with almost 60 shutting every month - stripping customers and communities of access to the financial services they need.

“While the decision is clearly a commercial one for a bank to take, it is also crucial that banks do recognise the needs of their customers and the communities they serve, before simply shutting their doors - and their customers out.”