Around one in ten of the UK's bank and building society branches has closed in the past five years due to increasing use of Internet banking services and general cost cutting, according to new research.
In 2002 there were 11,640 branches in the UK, but this fell nearly 11% to 10,423 by 2007, according to data from local information Web site Locallife.com
The decline in branches increases to almost 12% when the numbers are looked at in relation to the population. The numbers fell to an average of 2.13 branches to every 10,000 people in 2002, to just 1.88 per 10,000 this year.
The data also shows that urban areas have seen the biggest decline in branch numbers, rather than rural areas as is generally thought.
The number of bank offices in London has dropped by almost a fifth, while in the densely populated Midlands the fall is almost 15%. However East Anglia, Wales and Scotland saw a much smaller contraction in the number of banks, falling by 5.8%, 6.5% and 8.2% respectively.
Commenting on the findings Tony Martin, chairman, Locallife, says: "We hear a lot about closure of banks and post offices in rural areas, but that's something of an urban myth. In fact, the axe has been wielded much more enthusiastically in metropolitan areas like London, the Midlands and North West, where it is easier to rationalise."
A recent survey by consumer group Which? found that about half of UK customers now bank online although around 90% do still visit branches. The survey also found that Internet banks were rated higher than their high street rivals for customer satisfaction.