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Why are so many banks still opening part-time?

Banks have slammed because they have not resumed normal opening hours, with some offices open only four hours a day.

Many sites limited services during the shutdown due to staff shortages, and some closed completely.

It meant that customers were forced to queue, with some being turned down and told to bank online.

Long queues: Customers are forced to wait outside the branches as part of social distance rules

Long queues: Customers are forced to wait outside the branches as part of social distance rules

Now, almost five months later, major banks have told Money Mail that the majority of their branches STILL do not provide good service.

Experts say this simply isn’t good enough when other shops and restaurants have normal opening hours.

Many fear it is a cynical attempt to speed up the closure of branches, as companies will be able to claim that fewer customers are using them.

Last week, Barclays CEO Jes Staley said that the banking giant is “carefully reducing the number of underutilized branches.”

“The more we can ensure that consumers migrate to our digital offering and use our banking app and online to manage their transaction volumes, the better for us,” he added.

Santander’s finance director Jose Garcia Cantera also acknowledged that the bank was forced to ‘rethink’ its business model, with ‘certain trends emerging’.

Some banks have turned customers away and told them to bank online

Some banks have turned customers away and told them to bank online

Some banks have turned customers away and told them to bank online

Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, says the majority of branches have limited opening hours between 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM. Many were open before closing from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Barclays says that approximately 95 percent of its affiliates opened at least one day a week between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM and closed between 4:30 PM and 5:00 PM.

Office hours now vary across the network, but are 30 percent shorter than before the pandemic, according to the bank.

Personal appointments are also limited unless critical, with customers being offered phone or video slots instead.

All 565 Santander locations have limited opening hours, open between 10am and 3pm, and some close at 2pm.

Before closing, the branches were open on weekdays from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm and on Saturdays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm or 4:00 pm.

And while 80 percent of stores opened on Saturdays, less than half (256) do now.

The bank has also temporarily closed a number of branches due to staff shortages. For example, 20 branches are closed on Monday and the bank’s 50 university locations have been closed since 18 March.

At HSBC, more than a third of the 621 sites are currently open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The rest closes at 2pm, but is expected to be open longer in mid-August.

Before closing, most stores were open between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM, or between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Most of the NatWest branches are now only open between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Previously, many branches opened at 9:00 am and closed at 5:00 pm.

Customers can only make personal appointments in exceptional circumstances, such as after a death. About 5 percent of the branches remain closed.

Nationwide offices are open between 9am and 3pm or 10am and 2pm. Before closing, hours were from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.

It is estimated that 2 percent of the sites are still closed, and the construction association encourages customers to visit only when absolutely necessary.

Banks say opening times are limited due to a lack of resources. Employees are shielded, have childcare responsibilities, or are needed in other parts of the company.

The shorter hours help them avoid busy travel times. Businesses say the hours also reflect a drop in local demand.

Research by which? shows that a third of bank branches have been lost in just five years.

James Daley, founder of campaign group Fairer Finance, says, “There’s no good reason banks are now continuing to cut office hours.

“Many people still rely on branch access in the UK and banks should make every effort to keep these services operational.”

He warns that while many customers may have used online services during lockdown, banks should not use this as an excuse to accelerate cutbacks in the offices.

“Bank branches are still a lifeline for vulnerable citizens – as well as small local businesses – and these customers must have alternative payment and deposit solutions before banks stop operating,” he added.

Banks say opening times are limited due to a lack of resources. Employees are shielded, have childcare responsibilities, or are needed in other parts of the company

Banks say opening times are limited due to a lack of resources. Employees are shielded, have childcare responsibilities, or are needed in other parts of the company

Banks say opening times are limited due to a lack of resources. Employees are shielded, have childcare responsibilities, or are needed in other parts of the company

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: “With retail returns to normal opening hours and shops open, banks need to return to their usual opening hours.

“It is essential for many older people to be able to turn to their bank to get the money they depend on for essential products and services, and at a convenient time for them.

“A return to longer opening hours also means fewer queues outside the branches, which is essential for older customers.”

Banking UK Finance says: ‘The vast majority of banking and construction associations have been open during the crisis, following government guidelines on social distance and health and safety in the workplace.

“Companies continue to assess customer demand for industry services and keep their websites up to date with the latest opening hours.”

a.murray@dailymail.co.uk

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