RBS branches open on bank holiday
The tradition of banks keeping their doors closed on a bank holiday may be in decline, as scores of branches up and down the country will be open tomorrow.
RBS and NatWest said that, in a break with a 144-year-old custom, they will open 34 branches on Bank Holiday Monday.
The banks will trial bank holiday opening in some of their busiest branches, with a view to opening more on future bank holidays if this is successful.
The majority of RBS/NatWest's open branches will also have mortgage advisers available, in a move which the banks said would help customers who find it hard to visit them during the week.
Jane Howard, managing director of branch and private sector banking for RBS and NatWest, said the moves were a response to changing customer behaviour.
She said: "Many of our customers have busy lives but are off work on a bank holiday."
Bank holidays were passed by parliament in 1871, giving workers time off. This meant that other businesses which were dependent on banks followed suit.
It has been suggested that those backing the Bank Holidays Act preferred the term "bank holiday" to "public holiday" as this was thought to give the holidays more authority. It was thought that if banks closed their doors, other businesses would naturally follow suit.
RBS and NatWest will join some other banks which keep their doors open at times when, traditionally, customers might have expected their bank to be shut.
Metro Bank, whose branches are open seven days a week, said that it plans to open up its 34 branches as usual on Monday. The only days of the year when Metro's branches are not open are New Year's Day, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.
Marks & Spencer, which like Metro allows customers to bank in branch during evenings and weekends, will also be opening up to banking customers.
All of M&S Bank's 29 in-store branches open on bank holidays. M&S Bank branch opening hours mirror those of M&S stores.
Barclays has been opening up some of its branches on bank holidays for several years and tends to have around 40 to 50 branches open each Bank Holiday. The decision on whether a Barclays branch opens on a bank holiday depends on factors such as demand from the local community.
Meanwhile, HSBC, Santander and Lloyds Banking Group confirmed they have no plans to start opening branches on bank holidays.
Kevin Mountford, head of banking at website MoneySuperMarket, said: "The move by RBS and NatWest to open on Bank Holiday Monday is interesting, especially at a time when footfall within bank branches has been falling.
"High street retailers open on bank holidays while banks have always maintained the tradition of closing on these days. However, consumer behaviour has changed, and people don't necessarily have the time to visit a bank branch during office hours.
"Extending opening hours to suit people's busy lifestyles could help reverse the decline in branch usage, although it remains to be seen whether other banks will do likewise. However, if the trial does become a success then we may have to start looking for an alternative name for 'bank' holidays."