Trisha Wiggin-Fausnaugh, Operations Manager at our new shared branching organization InNetwork, has written a piece on the effects COVID-19 has had on shared branching summer statistics. The original article is over at our sister organization InNetwork’s blog.
Summer is traditionally the time when shared branches see an influx of tourists, especially branches near vacation areas. But this year, with COVID-19 still a part of our reality, things have been different.
In many ways, things are looking up for shared branching participants. Shared Branching transactions, which dropped dramatically in March and April, are slowly but steadily climbing. While we saw many branches close in March and April, over 1,300 of those branches reopened since May.
But things are definitely not back to normal.
Daniel Burk, Director, Shared Branch Product Management at CO-OP Financial Services, told us last week that although the number of available branches has grown to 4,600, there are still nearly 900 that remain closed to guest members. The impact has varied by region. Some cities and states have had the majority of acquiring credit unions keep their doors – or at least their drive thru facilities – open. Other areas have seen many credit unions, and especially large, multi-branch credit unions, close their doors to guest members, which has had a negative impact to members (no availability) and to credit unions that remain available (higher than normal transaction volumes). The recent growth in COVID-19 cases around the country and the ensuing pull-back in reopening businesses will likely slow the reopening of more branches to guest members.
Credit unions struggle with providing service while keeping their employees and members safe. To accomplish this, many credit unions continue to serve shared branch members only in their drive thru. Others allow guest members, like their own members, to make appointments. Still others have their lobbies open but limit the number of people they allow inside at any given time. Social distancing and face masks have become the norm.
Fewer travelers can mean fewer shared branch transactions. The travel industry, which seemed to be enjoying a slight recovery earlier this summer, has seen spending growth slow substantially over the past month. The US Travel Association’s report dated July 23, 2020 (https://www.ustravel.org/toolkit/covid-19-travel-industry-research) showed an increase of just 9% compared to four weeks prior. According to their website, “Since the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused over $297 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. Travel economy,” and “The continual depressed level of travel spending has caused a loss of $38 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue since March 1.”
As we finish out the summer and head into fall, it will be interesting to see what happens next. Stay safe, folks!