Especially at moments of global crisis, it sounds petty for people in upscale parts of Greater Boston to complain that there are too many banks within walking distance. But the ample supply of branches in some neighborhoods is a first world problem in more ways than one. The same factors that have buffeted advanced Western economies at the macro level — widening inequality, the heavy hand of the financial-services industry, accelerating technological change — have also reshaped neighborhood commercial strips one storefront at a time.
The number of bank branches in the country has waxed and waned, as large banks shift from one business strategy to the next. When the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes reported recently on the prime storefronts that will soon be vacated by Citigroup Inc., which is getting out of retail banking in Massachusetts, she didn’t detect much public enthusiasm for new branches in those spaces. Banks close too early, create too little foot traffic, and attract too few customers from outside.
Harder to say is which businesses will take their place. Lots of neighborhoods want food stores, bike stores, clothing stores, and wine-and-cheese stores.