Branch to shut

New blow for Sauchiehall St as RBS bows out

RBS will shut its branch in the Glasgow thoroughfare (pic: Google maps)

Royal Bank of Scotland has dealt another blow to Glasgow’s ailing Sauchiehall Street in the latest round of branch closures.

The branch will shut next year along with 17 NatWest branded branches in England and one in Wales.

Closure of the Glasgow branch risks creating another boarded up outlet on one of city’s most famous streets.

Sauchiehall Street has been one of the biggest victims of the switch to online shopping and out-of-town retail parks. Marks & Spencer, BHS and Watt Brothers are among the high profile retailers which have left. The street was also impacted by the devastating fire which destroyed the Glasgow School of Art and another blaze at Victoria’s nightclub which threatened the Pavilion Theatre.

The street’s downturn has prompted some hand-wringing among city councillors, the Chamber of Commerce and retail professionals. However, attempts to rejuvenate the area have had limited success and drawn criticism from those who say landscaping and other cosmetic schemes will do nothing to boost footfall.

The latest bank branch closures bring the total this year to 578 branches across the UK. Barclays tops the list with 185 set to shut.

NatWest is second with 116, followed by Lloyds (112), Halifax (72), Virgin Money (40), Bank of Scotland (28), Ulster Bank (10), TSB (nine) and RBS (five). Nationwide Building Society, which has pledged to keep branches open for the time being, has closed one.

NatWest Group says the number of transactions in branches fell 60% in the four years to January 2023 with more customers using mobile apps.

NatWest said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no-one is left behind.

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

Anecdotal evidence from customers is that branches are busier than the banks claim and that it is the banks who are forcing the switch to digital banking in order to cut costs.

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