The recent raft of bank branch closures is accelerating the loss of local stores on the main street, new research shows.

A poll published by the Nottingham Building Society found that 46% of shopkeepers blamed the loss of a local bank branch over the last three years for negatively impacting their business, while 24% said they had divorced in the past five years be.

Owners of small businesses suffer from fewer visitors. Around 36% of consumers say that after closing their local bank branch, they would make fewer visits to their town or village.

Around 40% said they made at least three visits a month less.

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Shopkeepers in the areas affected by store closures estimate that their annual sales have declined by an average of 20% since the closure of the bank.

It also turned out that 26% said they would relocate their businesses to a new area or smaller neighborhoods nearby, while 31% said they were considering closing their stores and operating exclusively online.

The survey found that 15% think about job cuts.

Gary Womersley, director of Nottingham Building Society's branch network, said, "Financial institutions play an important role in local highways, attracting customers into business, and driving sales and business.

"This is especially true for market towns where much of our focus is in. Unfortunately, there are now no fewer than 1,500 cities in the UK that used to have offices, but nothing more."

A government report released earlier this year shows that 1,270 bank branches were closed between 2014 and 2017, with 650 last year alone.

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Further closures have been announced by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which will close 162 stores in England and Wales.

Lloyds also announced earlier this year that it would close 49 stores in the Lloyds and Halifax brands between the months of July and October.

A separate study by the Nottingham Building Society last month released projects that could close down another 2,400 banks, putting 12,000 jobs at risk.

"We see media campaigns that encourage people to conquer their streets, and we fully support them, but we also recognize the need to evolve," Womersley said.

"Expert advice and outstanding service are an integral part of our strong network of stores, supporting our unique all-under-one-roof strategy that provides our clients with housing and real estate agency services."

The company's research was part of a campaign to highlight the value of bank branches for local cities and businesses, with the store network doubling to 67 over the past five years.