Nearly half of Canadians will reduce bank visits after lockdown ends

17 June 2020 2 min. read
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Forty-seven percent of Canadians will reduce branch visits after the lockdown ends, according to a June survey from consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners. The survey polled 485 Canadian consumers on their preferences related to physical branches and digital banking.

Though Canadians will cut back on branch visits in the pandemic era, banks should be wary about closing too many of their costly physical branches. A majority (62%) of respondents said that they would move at least some of their business to a new bank if their primary bank’s local branch closed. When choosing where to open a new account after the lockdown, 57% said they would only consider a bank with physical branches.

“Branch traffic declined sharply in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19, a behavior that will likely stick to some extent until we have mass vaccinations,” said Wei Ke, a managing partner at Simon-Kucher. “Banks are at an important crossroad as the bank branch has historically played a critical role in customer acquisitions, brand building, and customer relationships.”

Nearly half of Canadians will reduce bank visits after lockdown ends

A substantial number of Canadians said they would complete certain banking activities at a physical branch after an easing of restrictions, such as getting a mortgage (71%), opening a business banking account (62%), and opening a savings account (60%).

Older consumers were less likely to reduce branch visits, at 30% of those age 65+, compared to 59% of consumers between 25 and 44.

The Simon-Kucher survey did find that Canadians would travel longer distances to their nearest branch if their bank also offered best-in-class digital capabilities. Tolerance for travel time increased from a 27-minute walk to a 37-minute walk for urban dwellers, and from a 15-minute to a 28-minute drive for suburban and rural dwellers.

Digital capabilities are especially important to banking consumers currently, with 55% saying that they would not open an account at a bank lacking best-in-class digital capabilities.

Respondents were most satisfied with the digital services at digital-only banks, with 47% completely satisfied with their digital offerings. Next were primary customers of credit unions (41%), followed by second-tier banks (31%). Customers of the Big Five banks were least satisfied with digital offerings (28%).