By Pradeep Saran
16 September 2023, 01:37 PM
John “Jack” Heckert, a 91-year-old resident of Reedsville, received an unexpected letter from Citizens Bank. Initially dismissing it as junk mail, he soon realized that the contents were more significant than he had anticipated. The letter informed Heckert and other Citizens Bank customers that the Burnham branch, located at 308 N. Logan Blvd., would cease operations at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. This branch is situated near the Greater Lewistown Shopping Plaza.
The brief letter conveyed, “We’ve appreciated your patronage at the Burnham branch on 308 North Logan Boulevard in Burnham, PA. We wish to personally inform you that we will be closing on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. We want to make it as convenient as possible for you to continue banking with us. While the Burnham branch will no longer be available, you can still access banking services via ATMs, online, or through mobile banking.
“Heckert had been a customer at the Burnham branch since the 1970s when it bore a different name. He typically conducted in-person banking once a month. With the impending closure, his nearest Citizens Bank would be in State College, causing concerns about transitioning his banking and direct deposit for Social Security. He expressed relief that only the branch location was closing, not the entire bank, saying, “He thought he would have to move all his stuff out,” as noted by Heckert’s son, Brian.
Brian Rothrock of Lewistown also received the notification from Citizens Bank. While he wasn’t overly dismayed or surprised by the news, it did pose an inconvenience for him. Citizens Bank was the sole place where he could acquire game-day Penn State booster buttons. Now, he would have to make the trek over the Seven Mountains instead of picking them up in Burnham. Rothrock commented, “There are branches in State College.
“Citizens Bank, boasting over 1,000 branches across 11 states, recently announced the closure of two branches in the Pittsburgh area in November, following the closure of 14 others. These Pennsylvania closures followed a series of shutdowns across the country, including several in New York. Founded in 1828 and headquartered in Providence, R.I., Citizens Bank is not unique in facing closures as many financial institutions grapple with the shift toward digital banking, as opposed to traditional brick-and-mortar branches. Crowdfund Insider reports that 1,144 bank branches have shuttered in the current year.
As of the end of May, there were 78,121 bank branches in the U.S., but fewer and fewer people are visiting these branches as most banking tasks can now be managed with the convenience of a smartphone or computer.
In 2023, several major banks have closed branches:
- PNC: 201 branches
- US Bank: 185 branches
- Wells Fargo: 160 branches
- JP Morgan Chase: 54 branches
- Bank of America: 49 branches
- Santander: 44 branches
- Citizens Bank: 38 Branches
- Huntington Bank: 32 branches
- M&T Bank: 21 branches
- Fifth Third Bank: 19 branches
Similar to the way the horse and buggy became a rarity, economists believe that physical banks will gradually become scarcer. They argue that today’s consumers prefer the convenience of remote banking over the time-consuming process of driving to a branch and waiting for in-person assistance from a teller.