Bank Closures Due to Pandemic Create Banking Deserts : The Indicator from Planet Money The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline of in-person banking. But after a bank branch finally closes down, what happens to the community left behind?

After The Banks Leave

After The Banks Leave

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KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images
(Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Over the last five years, foot traffic in banks has declined by about 35%. With the pandemic, the shift to online and smart-phone banking just accelerated. As a result, over the past 12 months, banks have closed 3,745 branches, about 4 percent of all the banks out there.

The loss of local bank branches means customers have to travel further, might not get the chance to learn about financial options as much, and in some cases, just lose a hub of social interaction. But something else is also lost when a bank branch disappears, particularly if it's the only branch in a neighborhood or a small town. Even if a rural small-town downtown or an urban neighborhood is struggling, as long as there's still a bank branch, the other retailers can usually hang on. The bank may be the last thing standing between viability, survivorship and complete decay.

Today on the show, when the banks go. We discuss the ripple effects for a neighborhood when the last local branch closes its doors for good, and what other options the community can turn to. Because, sometimes it's an opportunity too.

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