The Nelson Bay branch of the Commonwealth Bank will close its doors on May 5.
The bank will continue to service customers through its Salamander Bay branch and even maintain its CBD ATMs but the Nelson Bay branch ‘no longer adds up’.
“Commonwealth Bank regularly reviews its branch footprint, including opening new branches, installing new technology, refurbishing, relocating and, in some instances, closing branches,” a CBA spokesperson said.
“Following a recent review, the bank made a decision to close its branch in Nelson Bay, May 5, 2017.”
The success of online banking appears partly to blame.
“We have identified that fewer customers use this branch following a steady decline in transactions as they choose to use other banking channels like online and mobile,” the spokesperson said.
“Over the last five years we’ve seen a 33 per cent decline in the number of transactions at our Nelson Bay branch.”
Tomaree Business Chamber president Ryan Palmer said the closure comes despite the chamber’s best efforts to convince the bank to stay.
“We’re not happy that they’re leaving the Bay but we understand it’s a business decision,” he said.
“We will continue to work with them however to ensure they maintain a presence here.”
Among those discussions are ensuring customers still have an ATM in the CBD, other than the one already at D’Albora Marina. Customers will also be able to conduct basic transactions through Australia Post.
Mr Palmer acknowledged that it was a numbers game but said a lack of car parks “had to have played a part”.
“It’s the numbers coming into the branch, yes, but it’s also an issue of people getting a park,” he said.
“It’s an issue we have to address to keep people coming to Nelson Bay. It’s an argument we’ve been having for 40 years and we’ve got the documents that prove it.”
On the up side he doesn’t think the Donald Street premesis will be vacant for long.
“It’s prime real estate, it’s large and modern, I believe it will go quickly,” he said.
The bank said it hoped to service customers nearby at Salamander Bay.
“The decision to close this branch was not an easy one and we understand some members of the community may be disappointed,” the spokesperson said.
“Our team at Nelson Bay branch will be redeployed to other branches in the area.”
A letter was sent to retail and business customers on March 24 advising them of the closure.