Many bank branches in Mercer County and surrounding areas have recently closed or plan to close. MercerMe wondered why, so we asked Mercer County Commissioner, Nina Melker, who is a banker in her day job.
She shared:, “PNC closed a branch in Hamilton and Investors plans to close four or five branches in the coming year in Hamilton, Robbinsville, and Lawrence.” According to Melker, the reasons for these closings are primarily financial and technological.
“Banks are merging and consolidating, which is the reason for closing branches,” Melker explained describes, “It is a general trend, and many larger banks are reviewing geographically to determine needs, as many branch locations (which belong to the same bank) are in close proximity to each other.” By closing branches, larger banks anticipate still serving the same customers in an area but doing so with less upkeep. These banks and other ones will likely continue to close physical branches depending on need.
Financials are not the only reason for these recent closings, however. Melker explained, “COVID showed banks that customers can bank online. Mobile banking and use of ATMs have reduced the traffic in branches, which reduces the need for actual branch locations.” Put simply, this recent trend is a “sign of the times with changes due to expanding technology.”
So, will new physical bank branches replace old ones? Melker believes this is a likelihood even with expanding technology.
“New bank branches are a possibility if a bank has no locations in an area and is expanding.” For instance, Melker cites William Penn Bank, a Pennsylvania and South Jersey bank, as an example. “William Penn Bank is expanding into Mercer and opening a branch in Hamilton; taking over a closed PNC location,” said Melker. Thus, despite new technology changing the banking industry, physical branches will likely continue to be accessible in the future.
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