What a difference a week makes.
Seven days after announcing it would open five of its branches in Utah on Sundays, U.S. Bank said Monday it has reversed that decision, bowing to customer and community sentiment."We underestimated the sensitivity to Sunday banking in the community," Berniel Maughan, president of U.S. Bank Utah, said in a release.
"After listening to customer response and concerns, we feel it would be in the best interest of the bank, the community and shareholders to remain closed on Sundays."
Maughan said he wanted to maintain "positive relationships" with customers and the communities in which it operates.
On April 20, U.S. Bank announced Sunday opening for five of its branches in SuperTarget stores along the Wasatch Front. It said a survey of customers indicated more than half shop on Sunday and 48 percent said they would consider Sunday banking if it were available.
Apparently the bank's poll was wrong or didn't address the strong sentiment against Sunday banking held by the other 52 percent.
The decision to back away from doing business on Sunday also puts to rest, at least for now, the legal problems presented by the fact that Sunday banking is expressly prohibited by Utah law.
But it's doubtful that state law could have prevented the Sunday opening. G. Edward Leary, commissioner of financial institutions, said federal law would likely preempt the state statute. U.S. Bank and the other large banks in Utah hold federal charters.
U.S. Bank's decision might have forced a court challenge over the issue but that has now become moot, at least until another bank decides that opening Sunday would give it a competitive edge.
Michael Jones, supervisor of banks for the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, told the Deseret News that he had been disappointed by last week's announcement and was glad to hear that U.S. Bank had reversed its decision.
"I'm glad they aren't going through with it because we have the 25 state-chartered banks that have to abide by state law in not opening on Sunday," Jones said.
He said he has been in talks with U.S. Bank attorneys on the issue for the past year and was surprised that they had decided to go ahead.
Does this put to rest the issue of Sunday banking in Utah?
"I'm not sure at this point," Jones said. "I would think that as we get more regional and national banks in here, they'll all take a look at it, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it come up again."
Jones said most states - Oregon being the latest - have amended their laws prohibiting Sunday banking. "But we certainly have no plans to ask for a change in Utah law."
Becky Wilkes, vice president of the Utah Bankers Association, agreed that the issue could one day be resurrected. "I'm sure it will come up again. Other regional banks may want to try it," she said.
Dottie Loader, spokeswoman for U.S. Bank, said the decision to backpedal on the plan, "Wasn't so much pressure from customers as it was feedback from them. A number of them helped us see the sensitivity of the issue that we had underestimated."
U.S. Bank is a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, the nation's 15th largest bank holding company, with $70 billion in assets and more than 1,000 banking offices in 17 states. It offers Sunday banking in all those states except Utah.