Coronavirus: About 1.4 million Brits to stop using bank branches

Abigail Fenton
·3-min read
About three million Brits no longer use physical bank branches, survey finds.  (Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images)
About three million Brits no longer use physical bank branches, a survey found. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images

Over 1.4 million Brits could stop using bank branches due to COVID-19, research suggests.

About 2% of Brits told personal finance website Finder they don't intend to go back to a bank branch again.

Meanwhile, 2.5% — representing 1.6 million people – said they don’t have an account with a high-street bank.

Overall, this means a total of three million Brits don’t have a need for physical bank.

This number could rise, as 16% of Brits — representing 8.4 million — had already stopped using their bank’s branches before lockdown and are not sure if they will ever return

However, not everyone has gone completely digital as three in 10 (29%) banking customers have already returned to using their bank’s branches, and over two in five (44%) plan to return soon, the study found.

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This means that eventually, three quarters of Brits (73%) will return to banking in-branch the way they did before coronavirus crisis.

However, over two thirds (69%) said they will only return when they absolutely need to and their problem cannot be solved online or over the phone.

Meanwhile, a third (31%) are waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment before they go back to their local branch.

They may face a longer journey than they previously did to find a branch, as a quarter of branches have closed in the UK since 2012, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

Physical bank branches are now predicted to disappear from UK high streets by 2032.

Customers in Northern Ireland will go back to banking in branches more so than those in any other region, with 85% customers saying they have already returned or plan to do so soon.

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Those in the North-East of England are set to follow the same path, with 5% of customers in this region saying they will stop using branches in the future.

A quarter of customers in the East Midlands had already stopped banking in branches, making this the area with the most customers who no longer use branches.

“Lockdown has quickly changed many aspects of our lives and our banking behaviour was no different,” said John Ostler, CEO of Finder.

“Not being able to visit bank branches in person meant many consumers had no option but to start using online banking and bank’s mobile apps. These are generally easy to use and intuitive, so you would expect some of these new converts to stay away from branches going forward.”

However, previous Finder research found that sentiment towards digital banks fell almost three times as much during lockdown than towards high street banks.

“This could be a sign that the quality of apps and online banking from high street banks is catching up,” Ostler said.

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