A building society has pledged to stay on high streets but wants businesses to back it.

Nationwide Building Society, which has a branches in Salisbury, Amesbury, Fordingbridge, Warminster and Ringwood, has promised that every town and city with a branch will still have one in May, 2021.

Its ‘here today, here tomorrow’ stability is part of an ‘unwavering focus on helping local communities realise potential and improve,’ the bank claims.

Nationwide urges businesses to ‘rediscover their role in the community’ during the current difficult time for the nation.

“Failing to embrace changing consumer needs and not actively encouraging communities to thrive could spell the end for many local shopping centres due to disenfranchised local shoppers,” Britain’s largest building society warns.

Nationwide, with about 650 branches, has committed to stay in towns or cities, in which it is currently based, for at least two years. It hopes the assurance, until at least May 2021, will give consumers confidence their local shopping centres will not be left branchless.

“It has been made as far ahead in the future as is possible, given Nationwide’s scale, and the fact it is not immune to major shifts in consumer behaviour,” the building society said.

The move, started in the wake of significant bank branch closures, forms part of Nationwide’s support of communities, which includes allocating £22 million of funding over five years to help local housing issues, pledging to serve small businesses by entering the business banking market.

A bank or building society branch often acts as a bellwether for the health of a high street and can be a catalyst for growth or decline. Nationwide data shows a clear correlation between the health of a high street and the local contribution of a branch due to increased footfall and transactions.

An estimated 10,000 shops are expected to close this year, according to the Centre of Retail Research. But while much of the focus on declining footfall has been on the shift to online retail, Nationwide believes more needs to be done to serve and empower communities.

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