Palm Springs bank closures imminent but limited

Wells Fargo at Smoke Tree Commons and Bank of America at nearby Smoke Tree Village are both closing permanently. That has some residents, as well as employees at nearby banks, worried.
A sign on the door at a Palm Springs Wells Fargo branch is similar to one at a nearby Bank of America branch. Both are closing this year.

Two local bank branches will close permanently within the year, but fears that another two are on the chopping block are unfounded.
 
Driving the news: The Wells Fargo at Smoke Tree Commons and the Bank of America at nearby Smoke Tree Village — both off East Palm Canyon Drive — have started the process of permanently closing. That has some residents, as well as employees at nearby banks worried.

 Zoom in: With U.S. Bank acquiring Union Bank — and its location at 500 South Indian Canyon Dr. possibly being designated a historic building — some feared the bank would vacate the location and a new leaseholder would be hard to find.

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  • In addition, whether U.S. Bank would follow Wells Fargo and Bank of America’s lead and leave its East Palm Canyon Drive location was the subject of speculation.

What they’re saying: A representative from U.S. Bank said Tuesday that the company has no plans to close any Palm Springs locations under its control.

  • “Palm Springs is a really important market for us,” said Carl Jordan, a U.S. Bank vice president. “Even though those locations aren’t that far apart, they serve different pockets of the community. So when we looked at that, it was an easy decision for us to have them a part of our network.”

Bigger picture: While two major banks closing branches in Palm Springs will make banking difficult for some, it’s not surprising. There were 8,000 commercial banks in the country in the year 2000. By mid-2022, there were only about 4,200.

  • Bank of America’s Colleen Haggerty, who confirmed the Smoke Tree Village location’s closure, said the pandemic further contributed to a drop in foot traffic.

  • “For example,” she said, “90% of our clients now interact with us digitally while the other 10% is by phone and in-person; and about 9 out of 10 checks are now deposited outside the walls of a branch using mobile deposit and ATMs.”

Bottom line: “This financial center has been temporarily closed throughout the pandemic, so customers have been migrating to our other nearby locations,” said Haggerty. “We continue to have other Palm Springs financial centers within a few miles that will remain open.”

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