Forget banking with a supermarket, now you can bank in one
Shopping is a lot like banking. You start the activity with some money, and at the end (of the month/shop) you have none left. You don’t remember planning to spend all your cash, but its disappears anyway. When you look at it like that, the latest strategic pairing between Barclays and Asda might seem to make sense.
Barclays have announced that 8 branches will move from a traditional bank premises into Asda stores in 2014. The branch to move will be the Birchwood shopping centre branch in Warrington, where services are due to move to a nearby Asda in February, followed by Albion Street, Broadstairs, Kent, Manor House Street, Pudsey, Leeds, and St Albans Road, Watford.
The benefits for Barclays are clear- they won’t have to pay for the overheads of the defunct branches, and Asda are presumably banking (arf arf) on the fact that it is impossible to just buy one thing in there, so people looking to make a deposit are likely to come out loaded with shopping rather than extra cash. But is there a benefit to the consumer?
Some are arguing that this is yet another blow to the high street, with Asda stores normally being located out of town centres, but Steve Cooper, Head of Barclays Retail and Business Bank said that customers are looking for a more convenient way of banking, somewhere they can park more easily.
The supermarket branches will also be open longer- although staff will only be there during normal banking hours, machines to allow withdrawals and deposits will be open during normal Asda hours, seven days a week. However, given these will not be processed until normal banking hours, this would be of limited benefit to those wanting their cash processed more quickly, but could be handy for those who struggle to get into a bank during normal hours.
But will it work? Moving Post Offices into WH Smith has had varying degrees of success and previous experiments of a similar ilk involving banks and supermarkets have not been successful. Lloyds tried it on with Asda between 1997 and 2002, while HSBC did something similar with Morrisons. All the outlets subsequently closed.
Nevertheless, both Asda and Barclays are excited about the prospect. Asda’s Karen Hubbard, said “this is the next step in the evolution of how we continue to make our stores relevant to our customers’ everyday needs, giving them access to banking services to use at their convenience – when they want, and how they want it.”
So is this what you want? Can you see yourself picking up a pound of butter when counting the pennies or would you rather a traditional hushed and carpeted branch? Are small businesses and pensioners going to be disadvantaged by out of town locations?