Britain's 6,000th bank branch shuts its doors for good as milestone highlights 'disastrous' impact on high street

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Britain's 6000th bank branch shuts its doors for good as milestone highlights 'disastrous' impact on high street - LBC

The number of UK bank branches to close in the past nine years has surpassed 6,000.

Barclays is closing eight more of its branches for good on Friday, taking the total by the end of the day to 6,005.

It equates to over 60% of the bank branch network since consumer group Which? began tracking closures in 2015.

The milestone highlights the impact closures have had on high streets and the need to provide replacement services for millions who still rely on them, Which? said.

The eight Barclays closures are in Alperton in Wembley, Andover in Hampshire, Bangor in County Down, Bracknell in Berkshire, Hornchurch in Essex, Inverness in the Highlands in Scotland, Liverpool, and Streatham in London.

Barclays has closed 1,216 branches since 2015 while NatWest Group - which comprises NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank - has closed 1,360 branches.

Lloyds Banking Group, made up of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, has shut 1,146 sites.

A further 200 bank branch closures are on the cards for the rest of 2024, with 24 currently scheduled to be closed in 2025.

While millions of consumers have made the switch to banking digitally, there remains a significant number of people who are not yet ready or willing to make that jump, underscoring the need for accessible alternatives, Which? said.

Banking hubs - which allow banks to share facilities - have since been introduced, with the 50th hub having recently been opened.

They have a counter service operated by the Post Office, allowing customers to conduct routine banking transactions.

Sam Richardson, deputy editor of Which? Money, said: "This milestone of more than 6,000 bank branch closures in just nine years underscores the seismic shift that has taken place in terms of our banking habits and the character of the British high street.

"While some may hardly notice the closure of their local branch as they seamlessly switch to online banking, for others reliant on face-to-face services, the impact can be disastrous.

"It's not about halting closures altogether, but ensuring that essential banking services remain accessible to those who still rely on them."

A Barclays spokesperson said: "As visits to branches continue to fall, we need to adapt to provide the best service for all our customers.

"Where levels of demand don't support a branch, we maintain an in-person presence though our Barclays Local network, live in over 350 locations, based in libraries, town halls, mobile vans and our banking pods.

"We also support access to cash with our cashback-without-purchase service, 24-hour deposit-taking ATMs and by working alongside the Post Office and Cash Access UK."

Stephen Noakes, retail director at Nationwide said: "Which? has helpfully put the spotlight on branches. Our research shows nearly three-quarters of consumers of all ages are concerned about the rate of closures, with half of 16 to 24 (year-olds) left frustrated after finding their local branch closed.

"Branches are valued for everyday banking but also for important moments like scam worries and transferring a large amount of money.

"That's why we have promised that everywhere we have a branch today we will remain until at least 2028."