Santander is planning to reduce its opening hours from July as part of making the business more efficient and profitable.
The changes mean branches will operate from 9.30am to 3pm on weekdays, instead of until 4.30pm.
The bank said the changes reflect a thorough review of when customers use its branches. Richard Owen, head of branches at Santander, said: “These changes will enable us to maintain our existing branch network while providing significant additional capacity to help customers who want to talk to us by phone.
“We have seen a continuing reduction in branch usage over several years, both before and since the peak of the pandemic, with many customers preferring to transact digitally or contact us by phone. We want to make sure we have the right mix of channels to help our customers however they choose to bank with us.”
Government High Streets Task Force expert and ShopAppy founder, Dr Jackie Mulligan, said: “Banks bring all-important footfall to the UK’s high streets so this is yet another blow to the small independent retailers that line them.
“In recent months, we have seen a number of banks announce branch closures and this news from Santander is another significant blow to retailers around the UK.
“It also comes at a time when inflation and rising energy bills are squeezing people’s spending power in a way we haven’t seen for decades, which is again hitting local shops hard.
“The shift to digital banking is irreversible, but so, too, is the damage caused by banks reducing their presence or opening hours on our high streets.
“Our message to consumers is, if you have less to spend, spend it wisely, not with the online giants but with the local businesses that are the bedrock of your communities. Right now, they are depending on your custom more than ever.”