Should banks stay open on Bank Holidays?
The idea of these public holidays was introduced by Sir John Lubbock in the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. Basically, they were religious holidays, where 'no person was compelled to make any payment or to do any act upon a bank holiday which he would not be compelled to do or make on Christmas Day or Good Friday.'
Well, the UK is hardly religious these days, but we like going to the pub. Of course, a lot of retailers stay open on Bank Holidays and, increasingly, banks are staying open too - we might have to start calling these holidays something else.
RBS are planning to keep open 34 of their busiest branches, and Barclays are all set to have as many as 50 open on May 4th. It makes sense too, because while everyone charges out of the house to spend money, banks should be their to serve customers if needed. And of course, there'll be some nice time-and-a-half for those who don't mind working on a national holiday.
Banks have been slowly coming around to the idea of being more flexible with their time. Shops don't close on a Sunday, so why should anyone else? Metro Bank has been shaking things up in the industry; they open seven days a week and stay open late into the evening, because it doesn't make sense for a bank to be only open when everyone's tied-up at work.
It goes without saying that there's more internet banking services to be had, than there was years ago, but customers should be allowed to visit a branch if needed, and when it suits them, rather than the banks. That's business that is. If a retailer can stay open 'til 8pm, there's no good reason why a financial service can't.
So, in 2015, with Barclays and RBS moving away from convention, we could well see our banks and building societies staying open on national holidays in the coming years, and frankly, it is about time.