Who Needs Another Bank in Westfield?

In recent years more and more banks have set up shop in Westfield, just recently HSBC and Citibank almost next to each other on North Ave and WaMu on Elm Street. I was always wondering why this is and how all these banks can make a living, in particular with the fairly expensive retail space in Westfield.
10 years ago or so, when online banking started to become popular, everybody felt that branch/retail banking would be on the decline as most people wouldn't want to go to their banks but rather do things online or via phone. And for a while it seemed like that was actually happening.
But then a few years ago an opposite trend emerged. Banks were aggressively opening new retail branches or were even building whole business models around consumer banking with retail branches at every corner (e.g. Commerce Bank), what some people call McDonald's Banking. I still don't understand how that model can be profitable but somehow it must make business sense for these companies. For myself, I hardly ever visit my bank branch and do as much as possible online or via phone.
I find good eateries or quirky specialty stores much more intriguing than chain bank branches and they also contribute more to a vibrant community. So I had hoped the "Banks are Taking Over Westfield" trend we have seen for the last few years was running out of steam. Unfortunately, it hasn't. I just realized that on South Avenue, next to Tutti Bacci, another bank will be opening where there the bicycle store used to be. Not sure which bank it is going to be but if you look through the windows you can clearly see a wall opening for an ATM.
I would have rather liked to see a great Greek or Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant with some tables on the sidewalk. Banks are certainly not on my list of things that the Westfield scene is dearly missing.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. What are all these banks doing in Westfield? I heard a rumor that Wolfgang Puck was supposed to open a restaurant where HSBC is now. I rather had WP there.

Tom B