Neighbors Vitamin Shop owner Gladys Kublik is encouraging her customers to deposit their pennies for the Morinville Food Bank. Retailers and consumers begin to say farewell to the penny when the coin begins to be recalled Feb. 4. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – In 2012 the Government announced it would phase out the penny this year due to the rising costs of minting the coin and the fact large quantities of the coin were sitting inside jars in Canadian households instead of flowing through the country’s cash registers. Estimating an annual savings of $11 million per year, the Government set a transition date of Feb. 4 to begin ridding the country of the penny. That date was shifted from an earlier date to accommodate merchants who felt phasing out the coin over the busy Christmas season would be problematic.
Beginning next week the Canadian Mint will no longer distribute pennies and businesses are encouraged to begin rounding transactions up or down to the nearest five-cent increment. Merchants are recommended to round down if the purchase is, for example, $1.01 or $1.02, and round up if it is $1.03 or $1.04. Likewise they would round up if the amount were $1.08 or $1.09 and round down if it was $1.06 or $1.07. The rounding applies to cash purchases. Pennies will still be tabulated when paying by cheque or plastic, and pennies may still be used to pay an exact amount in cash.
Little concern locally
Morinville merchants see little problem with the phasing out of the penny. Those we spoke with are ready to round up or down in accordance with the Government’s recommendations.
“We’re going to make it easy for the customer one way or another,” said Denise Hunter of Hunters Print and Copy, adding she and her staff are ready for the transition. The Hunters are not anticipating any major issues as the coin is phased out but realize there will be a period of time for businesses and customers to adjust.
Another local business that regularly accepts cash payments is Neighbors Vitamin Shop. Like Hunters, they see little problem on the horizon with the penny being phased out. Kublik said they would be rounding down as a matter of course to make things easier for their bookkeeping. “It causes accounting problems if you round up or round down without having a clear record of it in your system,” said owner Gladys Kublik. “We decided we will consistently round down because we can give a discount on our POS [point of sale].”
Some using opportunity to give
Because the penny will still be legal tender, some local businesses are using the opportunity to help local charities.
Higher Grounds Espresso Bar in Morinville began last fall accepting unwanted pennies from their customers on behalf of the Morinville Community Library’s Lego Club fundraiser, an initiative that saw a couple large jars of the copper coin transported for that cause.
Servus Credit Union and Neighbors Vitamin Shop are both currently collecting unwanted pennies for the Morinville Food Bank Society. Neighbors are collecting the pennies from customers and will add a personal donation when the pennies are tabulated at the end of March.
“We are going to consistently round down to the nearest nickel and would like to challenge our customers that with the one to four cents they are saving, throw them in the penny jar,” Kublik said, adding she will match the amount raised by her customers to a maximum of $200. “It’s good time to bring attention to the Food Bank because after the big rush for Christmas, January is always a time when people are stretched.”
Beginning Feb. 4, the penny will no longer be distributed by the banks. Those pennies deposited with banks will be ultimately sent back to the Canadian Mint.
For more information on the penny’s transition visit www.mint.ca/store/mint/learn/phasing-out-the-penny-6900002.