Launching a program that may someday be extended to its entire branch system, Union Bank said Wednesday it will open four of its San Diego County branches for Sunday business starting this weekend.
If the Sunday banking hours prove successful over a test period lasting up to a year, Union Bank will open a "small proportion" of its 180 statewide locations for Sunday business, said Richard C. Hartnack, Union Bank's board vice chairman and head of its community banking group.
Union Bank, which has $16.5 billion in assets, will become the first major California bank to offer Sunday service at free-standing offices. Since 1990, Union Bank has offered Sunday banking services within 19 Ralph's supermarket locations in Southern California, including 7 Ralph's in San Diego County.
The extended hours are a sign of the increasingly competitive business climate in California banking and of how the term "banker's hours" is taking on a whole new and perhaps less pejorative meaning.
According to the California Bankers Assn., only Fremont Bank in Northern California now offers regular Sunday service in stand-alone branches. However, San Diego Trust & Savings Bank is expected to announce Friday that it will open a Sunday "emergency banking" center in the Kearny Mesa area, a source said Wednesday.
The hours, exact location and opening date of the San Diego Trust & Savings branch were not available Wednesday.
Hartnack said Sunday banking hours have proven successful at First Chicago Bank, where Hartnack worked before joining Union Bank last year.
Union currently operates 56 branches in San Diego County and claims a 10% market share of the local commercial banking business. The Sunday banking hours are designed to "position Union Bank as the most convenient bank to do business with," Hartnack said.
At its Ralph's locations, Union Bank offers all traditional banking services except safety deposit box rentals and "large business loans," a spokesman said.
The four Union Bank branches to be open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. are on Genesee Avenue and Mira Mesa Boulevard in San Diego, Third Street in Chula Vista, and on Mission Gorge Road in Santee.