A thriving South Tyneside retail zone has been dealt a blow with the announced closure of its second bank in two years.
Councillors and businesses have told of their disappointment and shock that Barclays is to shut its branch at the Nook, South Shields, in May.
The banking giant says customer numbers have dropped - with 71 per cent routinely using other branches - and account holders are being advised to swap to its nearest alternative outlet – around two miles away in King Street.
Barclays will bring the shutters down on Friday, May 10 – two years after Lloyds closed - and all four staff members will be relocated.
Confirmation letters have been posted to customers, and posters will be put up inside the branch.
Harton ward Labour councillor Pay Hay, who said: “I’d like Barclays to rethink. This is a thriving retail area where footfall has doubled in the past two years and this closure will be a huge loss to the local population.”
Raffaele Mereu, boss of Caffe Di Bella, which trades just doors from Barclays, also in Prince Edward Road, said: “This bank is a valuable community asset. There’s often a big queue outside, especially on Mondays, it always looks busy and well used.
“Not all the businesses here bank there, but lots of people who shop at the Nook do come to this area to bank.”
Kim Pye, of VIP Dog Grooming, added: “This closure is definitely a big loss to the Nook. I use this branch. It’s very convenient and means we don’t have to travel into South Shields town centre to bank.
“We are a close community and closure will be a hassle for many people.”
Barclays, which is believed to have operated at the Nook for over 40 years, said staff would assist customers with any closure concerns.
A spokeswomen said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.
“At Barclays Harton branch customer usage has continued to decline and 71 per cent of our customers now regularly use alternative branches, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.
“We hope that the availability of our other Barclays branch at 1-5 King Street, South Shields and access to services at the local Post Office, along with our range of digital channels, will help to ease the transition for our customers.”
In June 2017, Lloyds closed its Nook branch. Virgin Money continues to trade at Prince Edward Road.
An estimated 13,000 bank branches have closed in the past 30 years, down from 20,583 in 1988 to around 7,580 today.
It has left around 19 per cent of the population more than two miles from their nearest branch.