We originally wrote this article for another outlet. We share it here as it is relevant to the small business retailer community we serve. The closure of local bank branches in impacting small business retail. While our POS software can help businesses transact cashless, we do understand that for many taking cash is important to the business.
Banks closing branches, removing ATMs, hurting small business retail in Australia
Under the cover of Covid, banks are closing branches in Australia and removing ATMs in a shrinking of banking access. There is no consultation with customers, just an announcement or a sign on a front door.
Local bank branch closures are adding considerable cost to small business retailers in Australia.
While many bank branches closed under the first Covid lockdown back in March, plenty of these have since subsequently closed permanently.
In one of my own retail situations, in suburban Melbourne, our local bank branch, which is in walking distance, is closing. We face a 10 minute car drive, which means a roster change to deal with takings banking and disruption if we encounter a change shortage.
The closure of local bank branches makes going cashless more appealing to retailers. Maybe this is what the banks want. The retail network is expensive to maintain in terms of real estate and labour I guess.
While the closure of bank branches in March made sense, the continued closure after that lockdown ended was the first indication that banks were reconsidering their retail engagement.
Adding to the considerable number of bank branches that have closed in Australia, the closure of ATMs is impacting the shopper experience as well as the business owner experience. In another part of suburban Melbourne, one busy shopping street has seen five ATMs ripped out by banks.
Again, in my own experience, a local ATM at which we banked cheques, which are still a thing, has been removed, necessitating a drive as opposed to what was a short walk.
I get that all businesses are reassessing the infrastructure that is appropriate in a Covid and post-Covid (if it ever happens) world and that it makes sense that banks do this too. However, banks provide key services to Australians and local small businesses. They have a social responsibility to maintain these services. The extent of local bank branch closures in Australia will impact small businesses.
Again, in our own situation, for one of our shops, we are opening an account with a bank we have previously not dealt with as they have a branch a few minutes walk away and that is appealing compared to having to drive. It’s not ideal, but it is better than adding to our labour cost.