Upcoming penny retirement catches local businesses unaware
Published Sunday, January 27, 2013 7:12PM PST
Last Updated Monday, January 28, 2013 8:30AM PST
The penny will be retired in one week, but many small businesses are being caught unaware.
Ottawa has instructed businesses to stop giving pennies as change on Feb. 4, expecting them to instead round up or down to the nearest nickel instead. Electronic transactions and cheques will continue as usual.
Laura Jones from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses says few people are aware of the details, and information on the change has been light from the government.
"We haven't had a lot of calls from our members about the transition,” said Jones. “I think it's one of those things that a lot of people know it's coming, but they don't know the details."
According to Jones, that uncertainty could create longer delays at the cash register.
“Just because so few people really are aware of the details of this change there may be some confusion at the cash register where consumers are explaining to business owners or vice versa about the changes," she said.
While not all businesses are on top of the details, some have already made the switch.
Caffe Cittadella on the corner of 7th Avenue and Ash Street in Vancouver has been rounding to the nearest nickel for six months and has tax already included in the price.
Owner Dejan Bozic says customers have responded favourably.
“They like it more than paying tax after charging the customers,” said Bozic. “It's better to have rounded a price so they need to know how much they're paying upfront."
As for the federal government, it estimates millions in savings each year as each penny costs 1.6 cents each to produce. Savings will also come for businesses in reduced handling and sorting costs.
Jones said businesses don’t need to be too concerned, as the changes will be gradual.
And while businesses will start phasing out the coinage starting next week, it will take some time to work the billions of copper coins out of circulation. Ottawa has also made it clear taht businesses are legally required to accept the coin as legal tender indefinitely.
With a report by CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos