Much ink has been spilled over the impending decline of the branch. As consumer preferences have shifted to digital banking, both via mobile apps as well as online, conventional wisdom states that branches are largely a luxury that financial institutions can no longer afford.
Indeed, banks have continued to aggressively reduce their branch footprints in an effort to shed operational costs and staff, with the net number of bank branches declining by 2,061 in 2022.
Yet, despite a 1.2% drop in the number of credit union branches in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic, credit unions have added branches in each of the past two years. The net number of credit union branches grew by 86 in 2021, and 96 in 2022.
Why have credit unions continued to add these physical assets, while their banking competitors are taking the opposite tack? It is obvious that the branch still serves an important role for credit unions and their members.
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