Lloyds banks on holiday business

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Today is going to be a historic and unusual August bank holiday. Not because the weather will be warm and sunny. Or because the nation will be collectively hung-over from celebrating victory over Australia in cricket.

History will be made today in Shrewsbury, Bristol and Islington, in north London, when, branches of Lloyds TSB open for business on a bank holiday.

Despite the fact that the Britain enjoys 24-hour shopping - soon to be followed by 24-hour drinking - and some building societies have followed shops in opening on Sundays, the August bank holiday has remained exactly that for financial institutions since it was introduced with other bank holidays 130 years ago as part of the social reforms of the late Victorian era.

Lloyds TSB said the decision to open was a matter of local decision-making by managers.

Nevertheless, the experiment is likely to be observed keenly by the rest of the financial services industry - particularly its employees. The Halifax, which, already opens some branches on Sundays, pointed out that most financial services could now be obtained round the clock over the internet, which had limited demand for additional banking hours.