Number of U.S. Bank Branches Declining Overall, But Not Everywhere

Between the increasing functionality of mobile banking apps and the onslaught of FinTech challenger banks entering the space, it should be no surprise that the number of brick and mortar bank branch locations in the United States has declined significantly in the past several years. What may be surprising, however, is that this isn’t the case for some aress. As Quartz reports, there are some Americans communities that are bucking this trend.

To be sure, the number of bank branches in the U.S. has fallen sharply. In fact, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Co. (FDIC), today there are approximately 83,000 locations compared to 95,000 in 2010. During that same timeframe, there have been 23 counties (of 3,200) across the country that have seen more than 50 branches close up shop. Among them is Cook County — home of Chicago — which lost 260 bank branches over the course of nine years.

On the other hand, about 9% of U.S. counties have seen the number of bank branches increase. While most of these are smaller counties that may have seen one or two new locations open, four counties have actually experienced sizeable booms, gaining more than 10 branches since 2010. Topping the list is New York’s Kings County where there are now 377 branches compared to 344 nine years ago. The other counties to see similar increases were Santa Clara County, California; St. Louis County, Missouri; and Williamson County, Tennessee.

As it turns out, each of these counties has a slightly different reason for the gains. Quartz notes that the increases in Brooklyn (Kings County) are likely due to the borough’s growing economy as well as the increasing wealth coming to the area. Somewhat similarly Santa Clara County houses tech-rich San Jose, so increases to what was already a wealthy area are likely playing a role. This leaves St. Louis with perhaps the most interesting story as much of its branch growth can be attributed to the expansion of two regional banks: Great Southern and Simmons. According to Quartz, both of these banks are “adding branches in the county at a pace not seen almost anywhere else in the country.”

Overall what this study shows us is that there is still a place for regular bank locations even with the growth of FinTech. Whether consumers just prefer the convenience and personal touch of a regional bank like in St. Louis or individuals choose to trust their growing wealth to a physical bank, like in Kings County or Santa Clara County, it seems there are still advantages to traditional banking that digital operations just can’t match. As a result it would be foolish to declare brick and mortar banks dead anytime soon.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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