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Eggs, milk and a loan please

When you've lived and worked in London your whole life you become accustomed to a certain level of convenience.

You fall into a trap of thinking every high street in Britain is as similarly equipped as the Strand: a newsagent every 10 feet, a Tesco on every corner and all the banks sitting side-by-side.

But anyone with a shred of common sense knows those rules only apply for a tiny section of the capital, and that’s it.

Out in the sticks, away from cities and towns, each business bears a lot more responsibility – when the only bank in a 10-mile radius closes - the after-effects are huge. 

Coupled with this is the fact that rural areas, usually, have poor cellular signals and internet infrastructure, making branch banking sometimes the only option.

The Telegraph described Britain as having an ‘inexorable drive towards mobile banking and the damaging effect it is having on rural communities’ – strong stuff, but makes sense. Banks want us to adopt online banking and streamline their physical presence. 

So it makes sense to drive down overheads by merging together staple businesses  – I’m thinking of how Post Offices have been piggybacking inside WHSmiths for the past five years – so is the next logical step sticking bank branches into supermarkets – and then the step after that sticking everything into supermarkets?

Barclays are piloting the idea from next February by moving a few of their branches to within local Asdas, which should help kill two birds with one stone: lowering overheads on smaller Barclay’s banks – and giving Asda another revenue stream – while making use of their extra floor space. In a way it doesn’t really cause any bother for Barclay’s customers either – they benefit from the branch being open during normal business hours, automated machines outside banking hours – and you don’t have to move your car if you want to do your weekly shop.

The only thing that concerns me comes from a social point of view, rather than a finance one. When I hear that one out of every eight quid, in Britain, is spent in a Tesco – it conjures up images of a future megastore, swallowing up every facility not big or popular enough to survive on its own. And that's exactly how I don't want to imagine rural Britain. 

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Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 November, 2013, 06:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Whilst you mention the Post Office 'piggybacking' in WHSmiths, what you have not mentioned is the majority of UK banks have enabled their customers to use the whole of the Post a Office network for simple transactional services (see: http://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-banking-services#withdrawals_&_deposits). With 93% of the total population (and 99% of those living in towns and cities) living within one mile of a post office the customer convenience already exists nationwide.