Thrifty Foods supermarkets will round cash transactions starting Monday, while Glenwood Meats in Langford has stocked up with $50 worth of one-cent coins, as Canadian businesses figure out how to deal with the phase-out of pennies.
Thrifty will continue to accept pennies and offer to round cash transaction totals to the nearest five-cent increment, said communications manager Erin Kelly on Friday. Sales of $1.01 or $1.02 will be rounded down to $1, for example, while $1.03 or $1.04 will be rounded up to $1.05.
The Royal Canadian Mint stops distributing pennies Monday, but the coins will be legal tender indefinitely.
Eliminating pennies is expected to save taxpayers $11 million annually. The federal government says one-cent coins cost more to make than they are worth and Canadians tend to hoard rather than spend pennies.
The government is urging businesses to round cash transactions, and it’s up to individual businesses whether to keep using pennies.
Payments made by cheque or electronically through debit and credit cards do not need to be rounded.
At Rick Fisher’s Glenwood Meats, it will be up to individual customers whether they want cash sales to be rounded. “We’ll just work with the pennies as long as we can.”
Only about 10 per cent of customers pay with cash, he said.
Kyra Fairbotham, part-owner of Abra-Kid-Abra children’s store on Oak Bay Avenue, said her cash register will have to be reprogrammed.
“Most of our customers pay with plastic, but those that pay with cash, usually the older generation, tip the contents of their wallets over the counter and get a lot of satisfaction finding the exact change.”
The share of cash in total retail payments has dropped steadily in the past two decades, as customers move toward electronic payments, such as debit and credit cards, the Bank of Canada said in a fall 2012 report.
In the early 1990s, cash represented more than 80 per cent of volume and about 50 per cent of the value of retail transactions. By 2011, cash had slid to below 50 per cent in volume and less than 20 per cent in value, the report said.
Cash transactions totalled just over $100 billion in 2011, with an average value of $18, compared with $300 billion in credit-card sales and $180 billion in debit-card sales.
Mark Startup, vice-president of Mystore, the independent retail division of the Retail Council of Canada, said from Vancouver that most of the retail sector in B.C. will follow the federal government guidelines. “They’ll sort it out at point-of-sale.”
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