Over 5,000 Bank Branches Closed Since 2012

New figures have been released by consumer site Which?.

March 20, 2022
Over 5,000 Bank Branches Closed Since 2012
Ian Lewis

Written By

Ian Lewis

 
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New figures have been released by consumer site Which? that reveal that over 5,000 high street bank branches have been closed since 2012, reinforcing the concerns that elderly and vulnerable customers — along with those living in rural areas — are at risk of losing an essential service.

The new data also highlights the areas of the country worst affected by branch closures, with areas such as Bradford South, Sheffield Hallam and St Helens North having lost all of their bank branches within the last 7 years.

The new data shows the staggering reduction in face-to-face banking services available to customers across the UK, as banks aim to become more profitable again following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closures Continue — More Announcements Due?

The new data comes hot on the heels of an announcement by HSBC that it is closing another 69 branches in 2022, having already closed more than 80 last year. It’s expected that Lloyds and Barclays may make announcements in the next few days on their own closure plans for 2022.

The reduction in bank branches is staggering. At their peak, there were over 20,500 high street bank branches in the UK in 1988, although that number had already dropped by a third by 2012, although there were still more than 13,300 operating branches in the UK.

But that number has dropped now to 8,810 as of the end of 2021, a 34% reduction in the number of branches customers can visit in less than 10 years.

Closures have been happening long before app-based banking was popular, but the data shows that the last couple of years have accelerated moves by banks to cut down on the number of branches they pay to operate.

Banks claim that customers are migrating more to digital banking, a fact that is true. However, there are concerns for a small percentage of UK customers that may be unable or unwilling to transition to a fully-digital banking service.

If branches continue to close at their current rates, these customers may be left behind, without the banking help they need to manage or access their money.

10 Years of Closures in Numbers

Here’s how the UK has been impacted since 2012 by bank branch closures, ranked by percentage of branches lost:

  • South West England — 40% (480) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • North West England — 38% (555) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • Yorkshire & the Humber — 36% (655) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • Wales — 36% (250) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • East England — 34% (385) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • South East England — 34% (585) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • London — 34% (750) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • Scotland — 34% (400) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • West Midlands — 33% (355) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • North East England — 29% (130) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.
  • Northern Ireland — 3% (10) branches closed between 2012 and 2021.

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