Closure of HSBC is another blow to our high street

HSBC, one of the top ten global banks, has been closing branches for some time. Yesterday, it announced that 62 more high street banks would close, including its branch in the Bullring, Ludlow. Customers will need to go to another town to use the bank or use the Post Office after Friday 19 May.

This closure is a blow to our town.

This is the latest setback after Budgens announced it would close shortly. There is every expectation that One Stop will leave Tower Street when the building is redeveloped. The post office will be essential for people who want to pay money into their HSBC accounts but we don’t yet know what the future of the town centre post office will be.

The closure of HSBC in Ludlow could have an impact on footfall to our local shops. People come to the bank then perhaps shop or buy a coffee elsewhere. The closure is partly down to the way that we bank – so many of us only communicate with a hole in the wall or through laptop or mobile phone. But is also down to HSBC’s business model. Along with many banks it regards contact with customers as a transaction to be delivered at minimum cost. The banks are going the opposite way to that of many high end clothing shops, which want a high street presence to boost their online sales.

But let’s not be melancholy. Shop vacancy is our town is low – around 5% compared to around 12% nationally. We have a new retailer moving into the shop beside Barclays. A trader is also preparing the vacant unit alongside the French Pantry.

We must recognise that not all independent retailers will succeed in their expectations. Some will come and go, while the signature shops that define our unique high street remain as anchors – Bodenhams, Castle Books, Silver Pear, Fruitbasket and so many others. But these signature retailers are threatened by huge hikes in business rates.

I hope that another retailer will move into the HSBC building quickly after May. And I hope that horror of a modern frontage will be replaced by some decent windows.

4 comments on Closure of HSBC is another blow to our high street

  1. As the owner of three local businesses I need to bank daily. I am charged by the bank to put the money in and I’m charged by the council to park. Why would I not try and do everything online and avoid paying for parking and get cheaper banking? I’m aware that this removes business from my local branch which is regrettable. Surely you get enough from our business rates?

  2. I will move to another bank & they will lose a customer. I bank online but also use the branch to do some business as I can hear people better face to face than on the phone. Feel sad for the staff as over the 16 years I’ve been in Ludlow they have always been helpful. Opened my first account with Midland Bank in 1963. They and then HSBC have had my current account ever since. 53 years I reckon.

  3. It’s hard to muster much love for HSBC — not the bank, not the branch, nor the building.

    But there is often a domino effect when one bank decides to shut-up shop in town. Other banks often decide it’s timely to close their own doors too. For fear of becoming the Last Bank in Town.

    There is, or, at least, there WAS, an unwritten agreement between banks. In which the Last-Bank-in-Town was expected to stay open, as a public service to the community. Providing tbe last vestiges of bank counter services. Whatever the cost. Naturally, none of the banks, for financial reasons, want to be the last one in town! It’s very expensive for them.

    That closure agreement is not formal in any way, and in recent years it’s been watered down somewhat. But, even so, in Ludlow, HSBC has taken the first steps towards the wholesale closure of the entire banking branch network in our town.

    Leominster learned last month, that its NatWest branch is to close too. So these branch closures are probably being carved out privately between the banking groups. “You close Ludlow and Knighton, we close Leominster and Stretton”, And so on.

    The financial press reckons that free ATMs have had their day, too. Paradoxically, we shall be paying soon to withdraw our own money.

    In a tourist town like Ludlow – full of pricey trinket shops and dainty cafés – that’s particularly bad news. These businesses rely on impulse purchasing. If there’s no free access to cash – if there’s a charge to withdraw a tenner – then that’s a major deterrent to spending anything at all.

    Cashback is currently still available at both of Ludlow supermarkets. But it’s limited by opening hours (10am-4pm on Sunday); cashback is not available at self-service tills in Ludlow Tesco, and there’s a maximum cashback limit of just £50 per transaction.

    In the context of banking, the times they are a’ changing.

  4. I’m deeply disappointed by the decision of HSBC to close it’s Ludlow branch. Perusing the other closures announced, other nearby towns are affected too. I fought the closure of the branch close to my mother’s house, but was told that I could do my banking ’round the corner at the post office ‘ which subsequently closed, 6 months later. I then watched as the HSBC in Malvern Link closed…and now this, the one in my home town is closing. I work with technology . I am no Luddite. I do like to be able to go into a bank though . I understand it is expensive but I like real banks, not virtual ones. I understood HSBC were trying to consolidate their business in the UK before selling the UK arm. I wish they would hurry up before they close every high street branch!

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