Effects of Bank Shutdowns on Small and Medium Enterprises in the UK

According to a recent survey conducted by BusinessComparison, the majority of UK SME leaders believe that there are fewer local banks near their businesses compared to ten years ago. The research aimed to understand how SME owners and senior decision-makers utilize local banks and their concerns regarding bank closures.

The survey revealed that 74% of respondents agreed that there has been a decrease in the number of bank branches near their businesses over the past decade. Additionally, 21% of business leaders reported that it takes between 31 to 45 minutes for them or their staff members to visit a local bank, while 51% indicated a shorter travel time of 11 to 30 minutes.

Philip Brennan, the Founder and MD at BusinessComparison, noted that the findings confirmed a long-standing trend of diminishing bank branches experienced anecdotally by many SME leaders. He also highlighted the strong sense of community that emerged from the survey results, with 88% of business leaders expressing concerns about the impact of bank closures on the local area and other businesses.

The survey shed light on the top worries of business owners regarding bank closures, with 50% concerned about businesses that accept cash payments and 34% worried about the impact on customers. Moreover, the research highlighted that 46% of businesses frequently deposit cash takings at the bank, while 57% have adopted alternative digital payment methods such as PayPal.

Different regions and age groups also exhibited varying behaviors towards local banks. For instance, London-based businesses were more likely to frequently take cash payments and have staff visit the bank daily. On the other hand, the South East region stood out for relying heavily on card payments and rarely collecting change from the bank.

Interestingly, younger business leaders were found to make more frequent in-person visits to the bank compared to their older counterparts. The survey emphasized the importance of local banks for SME owners and their concerns about the disappearance of these branches, highlighting the value placed on these institutions for the local business ecosystem and customer relationships.

The survey, which involved 1,000 UK SME Owners/Senior decision-makers aged 18 and over, was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of BusinessComparison between 16 and 23 February 2024. The full report of the survey findings can be accessed on the BusinessComparison website.