MILWAUKEE (10/20/10)--The economic downturn and changing transaction patterns are trimming the number of Wisconsin bank branches, even as credit union branches continue to grow. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) data show bank branches in Wisconsin decreased by 37 to 2,351 branches as of June 30, 2010 (Marketplace Magazine Oct. 17). Nationally, there were 98,505 bank branches in 2010, down from 99,540 in 2009. Expert observers said banks eliminated branches to reduce costs and preserve capital. Shifting transaction activity was also a factor. While consumers still enter branches to open accounts, they increasingly use online banking and other options for transactions such as check cashing and withdrawals, prompting a 35% to 50% decrease in these transactions inside branches. As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions have generally been able to remain healthy despite the economic downturn, allowing them to preserve their branch networks, the magazine said. The Wisconsin Credit Union League said state credit unions operated 670 branches in June, a gain of 10 branches since 2009. Nationally, credit union branches increased from 21,341 in 2009 to 21,477 in 2010. In some cases, Wisconsin credit unions acquired new branches from banks that were retrenching. Earlier this year, AnchorBank sold 11 branches in northwestern Wisconsin to Royal CU, Eau Claire. UW CU, Madison, bought a branch property from Amcore Bank in Milwaukee shortly before that bank failed and bought a Waukesha branch from Equitable Bank.