Retailers banking with Natwest in the 84 areas with branch closures were this week informed that banking fees would also be increasing, with nearly all impacted by thousands of pounds.
The combined effect means thousands of retailers will have to spend more time and money to process their revenues, with one retailer effected calling it “A real kick in the teeth.”
Simon Lunn owns a Simply Fresh store with a BP forecourt in Weare, Somerset. Due to his Cheddar bank branch closing in October, he will face an hour round trip to Weston-super-Mareto each time he needs to make a deposit.
He received a letter stating that his banking fees would also be increasing by over £3,000 per year. Explaining the increase, Natwest said it would simplify their banking fee structure.
Lunn told Retail Express: “It’s extortionate considering there’s no branches to cash it into as well. They said their aim was to change the way customers bank, they’ve certainly achieved that, but not for the better.”
Business customers will be able to pay deposits into their local Post Office but the 24 hour clearance period can cause cash flow issues for some retailers. A van collection can also be organised, but there is an additional fee involved and a risk of informing criminals as to when the most money is held in store.
Speaking at an ACS/FSB event before the election, Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said branch closures in rural areas should be prevented, due to the impact they have on independent businesses.
The 84 branch closures are scheduled to take place staggered from May to October of this year with 27 of the stores in the North, 20 in the Midlands and East, 13 in the South West and Wales and 24 in London and the South East.
Explaining the reason for the combined fee and branch closure impact on small businesses, a spokesperson from the bank told Retail Express: “As part of our drive to make our products simpler, transparent and easy to understand, we are moving business customers to a standardised pricing structure.
"The majority of these customers will not see an increase in the amount they currently pay, however, some customers, such as those on older tariffs who have not had their pricing adjusted over time, will see an increase. We are proactively offering guidance to these customers to help them reduce their costs.
“Unfortunately, with so many more customers preferring to bank online, inevitably some branches will have to close. We know that physical banking is a necessity for business customers so we would urge customers to get in touch to discuss ways we might be able to help them.”
NFRN responded to branch closures by both Lloyds and Natwest stating: “The closure of a further 250 branches is another kick in the teeth for independent retailers who are already reeling from hikes in bank charges.
While internet banking may have taken many customers away from the branches, a retailer's takings cannot be paid in online. This means a trip to the next biggest town or city and a hunt for a parking space, incurring more cost in time and travelling. Bank closures also encourage local people to shop elsewhere, away from their local high street.”
"The banks need to rethink their strategy and start providing independent retailers with the service they require.”
Full list of Natwest branch closures:
- Alderley Edge
- Bamber Bridge
- Borough Green
- Bolton, Chorley Old Road
- Canada Square, Canary Wharf
- Coventry, Earlsdon
- Droitwich Spa
- Euston Road
- Fulwell & Seaburn
- Gateshead High Street
- Hytham Kent
- Leicester, Evington Road
- Leicester, Queen’s Road
- Menai Bridge
- Mile End
- New Mills
- New Moston
- North Shields
- Northumberland Heath
- Nottingham University
- Park Gates Hants
- Shanklin Isle of Wight
- Suton Coldfield Wylde Green
- Tower Bridge
- University of Kent
- Whitchurch, Shropshire
- Woburn Sands
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