Is there an appetite to increase branch numbers?
The media often comes across as obsessed with publishing the number of branches vanishing from communities as a symptom of a declining high street and growing online environment. Afterall, that is newsworthy, right? We rarely hear of investigations of a cure to these symptoms, a need to repair or indeed support those seeking to better connect communities.
It is Interesting to note therefore that stories like these mask unrepresented data which support requests for banks to open more conveniently located branches. Just as the pandemic has reshaped and reprioritised how people work and communicate; it has also shone a light on the need for community services. The Association of Convenience Stores’ 2020 report* repeated their findings from the previous year where it identified bank branches as the topmost wanted service locally, with specialist food and non-food outlets (eg, hardware) as second and third, respectively.
This report also shares data around those businesses which are deemed to be making the most positive impact, with the Post Office coming second only to the convenience shop, pharmacies and the local pub third and fourth respectively and banks coming in fifth in the communities where they are still based. Coffee shops/Cafés come sixth in the top 16 of services surveyed.
“It may be too simplistic just to suggest banks just open new branches. That said, there is a discussion to be had around how they could do it. Just as Post Offices are doing fantastic work at embedding themselves within existing businesses, expanding their service offering and connecting with local communities in new ways, perhaps a creative approach to local banking is one that needs louder engagement”. Guy Thorne, UK Sales Director, Cennox
The retail landscape is certainly changing due to a myriad of challenges. High Streets up and down the land are witnessing the traditional leviathans of the retail sectors choke, stumble and slip under, some never to be seen again. In some cities their loss is tangible. For other communities, smaller independent or cooperative style ventures are breathing creative and fresh new experiences into these places of regular commerce – mixing original local produce on street, as well as online. Guy Thorne continued..
”The future of community services may not resemble those of a rose-tinted bygone age. In fact, it may need to be very different to survive and thrive, as well as reflect the nuances and uniqueness of each community – this is a good thing. New working partnerships between businesses, local facilities and a reinvention of good old customer service is opening new doors for a creative new approach to business”.
“So, there is an appetite for more branches to be opened in local communities? The data suggests people are asking for it. How that can be delivered in a stable working format – well, that is the exciting creative challenge that has already started. It is one where Cennox already supports the sector visualise, implement and realise”.