CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A report out Friday from SNL Financial said no bank closed more branches over the last three months than Bank of America. The Charlotte-based financial institution closed 42 branches nationwide and opened one.
"You would expect that," says Dr. Tony Plath, a UNC Charlotte finance professor. "Bank of America has more branches than any other bank in the country, or at least they did until Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia, and then they took the lead."
Friday's numbers are part of a larger trend. The number of branches has been trending upward steadily until leveling off when the recession began in 2008:
Now, some people have a hard time remembering the last time they actually went to the bank:
There's a simple explanation: You can do your banking online, and even deposit checks with your smartphone. That means a lot of bank branches nationwide are up for sale.
There are other reasons-- according to analysts. Mergers and closings mean the number of banks is half of what it was in 1990:
Fewer banks means fewer branches. But Wells Fargo said in September that it'd open up more branches around Charlotte, since the economy here is doing well. And while people are doing their everyday banking online, they still have a use for branches, specifically for more complex things like applying for loans. "They still go to a physical storefront to seek advice, to gain counsel, to have a conversation, to look another human being in the eye," says Plath. All signs that the brick and mortar bank is not yet an endangered species.