HSBC says it will close 114 more branches in the UK from April, as customers using them have fallen significantly since the pandemic. The bank said it would try to redeploy affected staff but that about 100 would lose their jobs.
Banks have closed hundreds of branches in recent years as more people bank online and lenders cut costs. HSBC said it will invest tens of millions updating and improving its remaining 327 UK branches.
Jackie Uhi, managing director of UK distribution, said: "People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning. Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us."
She said the decision to close a branch was never easy or taken lightly, especially if it was the last branch in an area. She said HSBC was investing heavily in post-closure measures, such as providing free tablet devices to help some branch customers bank digitally, alongside coaching to help them migrate to digital banking.
The fresh closures come after HSBC said in March that it planned to shut 69 branches by this autumn. It said footfall in three quarters of the branches set to close had halved over the past five years.
The trend has sped up since the pandemic, with some HSBC branches serving fewer than 250 people per week, it added. By contrast, it said more than nine in 10 transactions are now done digitally.
The shift to online banking has seen High Street banks and building societies close more than 5,200 branches since 2015, according to figures from the Which? consumer group. Of these:
- Natwest, which owns RBS and Ulster Bank, has closed more than 1,200.
- Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Halifax and Bank of Scotland, has closed more than 850, with plans to close more than 70 more in 2023.
- Barclays is the individual bank that has shrunk the most, closing more than 960 branches.
It has left some communities without access to bank branches, while many cash machines have also shut.
It has disproportionately affected the elderly and those without access to the internet, as well as small businesses that bank in cash.
Tobias Gruber, chief executive of loan broker My Community Finance, said banks should take the money they save through closing branches to improve digital and telephone banking.
"It's unacceptable for bank customers to wait up to 30 minutes to speak to someone [by telephone] when it's their only choice because their local branch has vanished," he said.
While Post Offices are one alternative for paying-in cash and cheques, he said the move by HSBC will leave rural customers and those unable to use internet banking even more "frustrated, stuck and unable to access their money".