Banks Close More Branches
The number of U.S. bank branches continues to drop, according to financial research firm SNL Financial.
The Charlottesville, Va.-based financial consulting firm reported banks closed 1,500 branches last year and that they are on pace to close even more of them this year.
In the first quarter of 2014, banks closed 281 branches, compared to 276 branches in the first quarter of 2013, SNL reported in the data dispatch report, Banks continue to trim branch counts in Q1.
The firm laid responsibility for the closings on the shift in how consumers are doing business with their banks.
“Bankers and analysts say that more customers every quarter get more of their banking needs met online or via mobile devices and, as a result, fewer walk into physical branches. That provides banks reason to downsize or close underperforming branches. The steady pace of closures also has been fueled by an almost industrywide desire to reduce expenses in an era of modest loan growth and interest income,” said Mark Fitzgibbon, head of research at Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP, in the report. He also said the trend is taking place at banks of different sizes.
SNL reported Illinois, Arkansas and Pennsylvania lost the greatest number of branches, while Florida, Nebraska and Massachusetts were the only states to finish the first quarter with net openings of more than one.
By metropolitan area, Chicago, Little Rock, Ark. and Philadelphia saw the highest levels of net closures, SNL reported.
The firm did not include data from credit unions in its report.