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Chicago, IL, October 18, 2004 — Exclusive research from ” Checking: Portals to Profitability, ” the latest report from Mintel’s new finance series, reveals that the most common reason consumers select their bank is branch location. In response, banks are adding branches at an unprecedented pace.Mintel’s own consumer research found that three-quarters of consumers indicated that the location of branches is an important factor in choosing a checking account provider. The second most popular criterion, at 71%, was the reputation of the provider. In response, banks have drastically increased their branch expansion efforts–20% in the last 14 years. Despite the ongoing market shakeout that has slashed the number of institutions by more than a third since 1990, the branching craze shows no signs of letting up. Between 1990 and 2004, checking account providers dwindled by about 38% to under 8,000 banking institutions. But in the same time period the number of bank offices, or branches, actually surged forward by 20%, from 62,723 to 74,978 locations.