NatWest is to shut a further 43 branches on top of the 32 it axed earlier this year, claiming that most customers are shifting to mobile and online banking.
The outlets will close in the first half of next year and the move means the group will have 678 UK branches, down from its current figure of 721.
It is the latest in a line of banks to announce it is reducing its network in response to changing customer habits.
NatWest Group – which said in July that it had “delivered a strong performance” in the first half of this year, and would help its customers to “thrive in a challenging environment” – came under fire from some commentators after the announcement.
Dr Jackie Mulligan, a member of the government-commissioned high streets taskforce, said: “This is such disappointing news from a bank that has always been part of the UK’s high streets and has championed the small businesses that trade on them.”
She added: “Their ‘Tomorrow Begins Today’ advertising slogan feels a little bit redundant now. For most small businesses in town centres, this will put a lot more uncertainty into their tomorrows.”
NatWest said more than 91% of its retail banking customer needs were being met digitally, and added that on average, counter transactions had fallen by almost two-thirds between January 2019 and January 2022.
According to the consumer group Which?, UK banks and building societies have closed, or announced the closure of, 5,182 branches since January 2015, at a rate of about 54 a month.
In February this year, NatWest said it would shut 32 branches over the coming months.
A NatWest spokesperson said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.”
They added: “We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches, we have to make sure that no one is left behind.
“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”
The latest 43 NatWest outlets to be closed are:
Cheltenham Bath Road
Coventry Walsgrave Road
Lewes High Street
Bloomsbury Parrs, London
Upper Parkstone, Poole