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Santander to cut branch opening hours

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Santander has announced it will reduce branch opening hours as it brings in pre-booked face-to-face appointments in the afternoons.

The banking giant has announced that from 18 July it will make changes to branch opening hours as it looks to increase telephone support for customers.

It said the move is “in response to long-term trends in customer behaviour”, namely reduced branch use over the years.

The majority of branches will be open from 9:30am to 3pm Monday to Friday (scaled back from 9:30am to 4:30pm).

And between 3pm and 5pm, branch staff will be available for pre-booked face-to-face appointments.

Further, 316 branches which are currently open from 9:30am to 4pm on Saturday will be open for a half day (till 12:30pm).

Again, face-to-face appointments can be made at branches each Saturday between 12:30pm and 4pm “where customers need support that cannot be provided through alternative channels or earlier in the day”.

Santander confirms 76 branches will remain open at their usual half day hours on Saturday (9:30am to 12:30pm) and 58 branches will remain closed as they do now.

It added that there will be no branch closures as part of the changes, and all 450 branches will remain open every weekday. Branch staff will be trained to help customers on the phone alongside their current face-to-face roles.

Richard Owen, head of branches – Santander, said: “These changes will enable us to maintain our existing branch network while providing significant additional capacity to help customers who want to talk to us by phone.

“We have seen a continuing reduction in branch usage over several years, both before and since the peak of the pandemic, with many customers preferring to transact digitally or contact us by phone. We want to make sure we have the right mix of channels to help our customers however they choose to bank with us.”

Santander said customers using its branches fell 33% in the two years before the pandemic, and by a further 50% in 2020 and 12% in 2021. By contrast, digital transactions grew around 20% in each of these years.

It said it will write to regular branch customers from today to explain the new opening hours and offer support to customers. This will include customers who have interacted with the branch in the last six months, vulnerable customers who used the branch one or more times during the second half of 2021, and other branch users who visited three or more times during H2 2021.

Santander added it has consulted trade unions on these proposals. You can see Santander’s current branch opening hours here.

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