SANTANDER has announced plans to close 111 branches by the end of August - including two sites locally.

The firm said it comes in response to the ongoing shift by customers to using online and mobile banking, a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic.

Although branch transactions fell by a third over the two years before the virus crisis and declined by a further 50 per cent in 2020, said the banking giant.

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Mobile and online transactions have been growing by 20 per cent each year, with almost two thirds of transactions now digital.

In Berkshire, the banking firm has confirmed the Wokingham Santander in Broad Street will close and in Windsor the Peascod Road branch will also close its doors for good.

Data from July to December 2019 for the Windsor branch showed 79 per cent of customers have used online or mobile banking, and 40 per cent also use other Santander branches.

It also revealed 54 customers in that time - who only use the Windsor branch - had made six or more transactions during the six month period.

The branch will close at 4pm on August 5, 2021, and the next nearest Santander is in Slough High Street at 3.7miles away.

In Wokingham, data from the same period showed 76 per cent of customers have used online or mobile banking, and 39 per cent also use other Santander branches.

It also revealed 78 customers in that time - who only use the Wokingham branch - had made six or more transactions during the six month period.

The branch will close at 4pm on July 8, 2021, and the next nearest Santander is in Bracknell High Street at 4.8miles away.

Santander said say most of the 111 branches being closed are less than three miles from another Santander branch, and the furthest is five miles.

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The closures will leave a network of 452 branches, while Santander said it expects to find alternative roles for a significant number of staff affected by the announcement.

Adam Bishop, head of branches at Santander, said: “Branch usage by customers has fallen considerably over recent years so we have made the difficult decision to consolidate our presence in areas where we have multiple branches relatively close together.

“We will provide every support to customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs.

“We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible.

“We continue to believe that branches have an important role to play and we expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.”