6,000 UK bank branches could close by 2020

Tim Wallace
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HALF of Europe’s bank branches could become unviable or unnecessary by 2020, according to a study out yesterday from commercial real estate group Jones Lang LaSalle.

The shift towards online and mobile banking combined with a further spread of debit and credit cards is expected to reduce the value of branches to banks.

On top of that analysts expect users’ habits to shift, meaning branches away from shopping centres may become obsolete.

And across Europe smaller banks in particular are expected to be the subject of acquisitions, reducing overcapacity in branch networks.

The UK has around 11,600 bank and building society branches, suggesting almost 6,000 could be unviable or in the wrong place in seven years’ time. And the EU overall has just over 218,500, indicating almost 110,000 could go.

“Some locations will have viable reason to remain, where there is a population with requirement for branch banking or less access to electronic banking,” said researcher James Brown. “But the acceleration of online banking and e-commerce can only continue.”