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Bank Branch Closures Hitting Suburbs Hardest--- SNL Financial Report

As banks close branches in the face of secular pressures, they often point to redundant nearby branches that will continue to serve the community; however, net branch closures since 2010 appear to be more concentrated in the spread-out suburban areas.

Bank of America Corp. has openly acknowledged it will favor retention of urban branches while closing others in more rural locations. To test whether industry peers seem to be following the trend, SNL took a look at the largest U.S. metropolitan areas across the country, finding that branch closures have been more likely to hit suburban communities.

The metropolitan statistical area to see the most net branch closures since 2010 is the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, MSA. Closures in the metro were more likely to occur on the suburban outskirts. In fact, while the metro area overall led the nation in net branch closures, some neighborhoods in the urban core saw net gains in branches, particularly the area often referred to as the Loop, sandwiched between I-90 and Lake Michigan.

TCF Financial Corp. helped push the Chicago metro area to the top of the net closures list when the bank announced in December 2013 that it would close 37 bank branches located inside Jewel-Osco grocery stores. The move follows an industrywide trend of banks slashing locations, including in-store branches as well as the overall branch footprint.

Mark Goldman, a TCF spokesman, told SNL that the bank is not pursuing an urbanization strategy similar to Bank of America's. Also, Goldman said the bank is deeply committed to the Chicago market, noting "tremendous growth," and that he could not offer specifics on how the bank decided which branches to close.

"We concluded that even with additional products and services, the branches we closed were not going to provide TCF with a reasonable rate of return. And the vast majority of them had another TCF branch very close by, geographically," Goldman said.

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