Correction to press release of 27 April 2021 on changes in bank office statistics in 2020

Following a recording error, the Bundesbank has corrected the number of big bank branches in its bank office statistics. Not all Deutsche Bank branches had been recorded (512 were missing), meaning that the number of its branches included in the statistics was too low and the figures relating to branch closures at the institution were therefore too high (incorrect: -1,381, or -28.5%; correct: -869, or -17.9%). Overall, the correction has thus also caused the total number of domestic branches to increase, with shares based on this changing accordingly.

The corrected press release on bank office statistics in 2020 can be found below:

Pandemic slows down decline in number of credit institutions – coupled with significantly accelerated pace of branch closures

The consolidation process in the German banking sector continued at a slower pace in 2020. Over the course of the year, the overall number of credit institutions fell by 38 to 1,679. This corresponds to a 2.2% decline compared with a drop of 3.7% in 2019. The number of mergers was down on the previous year, particularly in the savings bank and cooperative sectors. It would appear that the coronavirus pandemic played a part in some merger plans being postponed. At the same time, the number of domestic branches underwent a significant contraction, falling by almost 10% (adjusted value), with the coronavirus pandemic likely to have served as more of a catalyst here. Additionally, there was extensive restructuring in the big bank sector.

“In order for our banks to remain stable and profitable in the medium term, they will have to make unpopular business decisions such as closing branches and giving up autonomy in the future as well,” said Joachim Wuermeling, the Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for banking supervision. “Banks will also have to increasingly pass on negative interest rates to customers and raise their fees,” he continued.

Change in the number of credit institutions

In 2020, there were 20 additions and 58 departures across all credit institutions. Of these departures, 26 (2019: 34) were attributable to mergers in the cooperative sector. The number of cooperative institutions thus fell to 819, representing a drop of 3.1%. In the savings banks sector, mergers caused the number of institutions to fall by 3 (2019: 6), leaving 377 savings banks alongside 6 Landesbanken (the number of which did not change).

The number of commercial banks decreased by only 8 institutions net to 366 in 2020; at 181 compared with 185 in the previous year, the number of branches falling under “Branches of foreign banks and securities trading banks” remained relatively constant. There were 18 additions versus 22 departures, with branches of British institutions alone accounting for 18 of the latter. However, a large number of branches of British credit institutions and securities trading firms had not yet ceased making use of EU passporting arrangements at the end of 2020, meaning that they will not be counted as departures until 2021.

There was likewise only a slight net decrease in the “Regional and securities trading banks and other commercial banks” category, which was down by 3 at the end of 2020 to comprise 182 institutions. Due to the merger of DB Privat- und Firmenkundenbank AG, the legal successor to Postbank, with Deutsche Bank AG (see Table 1), the statistics now contain only 3 big banks.

Number of domestic branches falls very sharply – coronavirus pandemic speeding up decline

The number of domestic branches[1] underwent a significant contraction, decreasing by 2,567, or 9.6%, to 24,100 in 2020 after falling by 1,772 in the year before (adjusted values). This development reflects the impact of digitalisation on distribution channels due to greater use of online services as well as cost-cutting measures undertaken in a challenging competitive environment. The coronavirus pandemic also markedly accelerated the pace of this development.

As a result, a net decline in the number of branches was again observed in all sectors of the banking industry.

The decrease in the number of branches at big banks by 1,073 (-17.3%) to 5,146 (adjusted values) was especially significant. This figure represents 21.4% (adjusted value) of the total number of branches. All big banks thinned out their branch networks, with the two main institutions to do so being Deutsche Bank AG[2] and Commerzbank AG: with the former closing 869 branches (adjusted value) – particularly in the course of acquiring Postbank – and the latter 180 in 2020, they each cut over one-sixth of their branches. According to the plans published by the banks to date, this trend will continue. The regional banks’ branch network was cut by 79 branches, leaving 1,161.

All in all, commercial banks had reduced the number of their branches by 1,155 (2019: -689) to 6,478 by the end of 2020 (adjusted values). This corresponds to an overall share of 26.9% (adjusted value) – this was 28.6% one year earlier.

Branch numbers were also cut by 679 to 8,528 in the savings bank sector (including Landesbanken). However, with a share of 35.4% (adjusted value), this sector still has the largest number of domestic branches.

In the cooperative sector, the number of branches fell by 706 to 7,778 (share of domestic branches: 32.3% (adjusted value)).

Slight decreases were likewise recorded among building and loan associations, with the branches of private building and loan associations going down by 11 to leave 792 and those of public building and loan associations by 8 to leave 467. The number of branches in the “Other” category (excluding building and loan associations) stood at 57 (see Table 2).

Renewed rise in foreign branches in the course of Brexit preparations, but number of foreign subsidiaries shrinks further

The number of subsidiaries[3] of German banks domiciled abroad was down by 92 to 83 at the end of 2020 (see Table 3), representing a total decline of 9.8%. Like the Landesbanken (3; -2), both German big banks (63; -4) and German regional banks (9; -2) scaled back their foreign presence by doing away with subsidiaries.

By contrast, the number of branches of German credit institutions abroad rose significantly last year by 22 to 273 (+8.8%). The increase is connected to Brexit, which was completed at the end of the year: some international banks moved their European headquarters to Germany – for the most part in years prior – but in some cases did not open foreign branches, primarily in other EU Member States, until 2020.

Nearly three-quarters of all foreign branches as well as around 46% of foreign subsidiaries are located in Europe, mainly in EU Member States (see Table 3). As at year-end 2020, 25 foreign branches (2019: 29) and 5 foreign subsidiaries (same as in 2019) were still located in the United Kingdom.


  1. Branches pursuant to Section 24(1a) number 4 of the German Banking Act. Branches that only provide automated banking or financial services are not included here.
  2. Figures for Deutsche Bank AG also include the partner branches of the former Deutsche Postbank AG.
  3. Equity interest of more than 50% in a foreign credit institution.