Two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began and credit unions nationwide closed their branches to comply with shutdown orders, one of the many questions we asked was, is this the beginning of the end for the brick-and-mortar credit union branch? Will this temporary pivot to digital-only banking make consumers realize there’s no need to visit a physical branch, leading credit unions to shut locations permanently and eliminate onsite service positions?

The answer to those questions has been a clear no.

According to NCUA data, in December 2019, there were 22,015 credit union branches operating in the U.S. Fast-forward to December 2020, and that number had fallen to 21,566. In September 2021, the number crept back up to 21,690, and in December of last year, it stood slightly below that at 21,652. While credit unions have shaved a few hundred branches off the industry’s total count during the pandemic, any big changes to branch numbers reported by individual credit unions seemed to be largely the product of mergers, according to an analysis by our reporter Jim DuPlessis.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has worked in the credit union space for over a decade. She joined CU Times as managing editor in 2015 and was promoted to executive editor in 2019. Before that, she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union) in Los Angeles from 2013-2015, and as a CU Times freelancer from 2011-2013. She has been a professional writer and editor for more than 17 years, specializing in news and lifestyle journalism as well as marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space.

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