Several Centretown businesses are using up the last of their pennies and will begin rounding all cash purchases, forcing everyone to adapt to the new changes.
Photo illustration by Matthew Lee, Centretown News
The penny is no longer being distributed in Canada.
The decision to stop production of the coin comes after the federal government estimated it costs $11 million – or 1.6 cents per penny – per year to produce. The government says it expects businesses to round purchases to the nearest five-cent increment, following the lead of countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
Harmony Hawthorn, an employee at Planet Botanix on Bank Street, says rounding to the nearest five cents will take some getting used to.
“I don’t think we’re all comfortable with the idea yet, just because it’s a strange concept to us all but I’m sure we’ll get used to it,"he says.
“My whole lifetime I’ve had the penny, so rounding to the nearest five is going to be a very strange.”
Tom Gamble, owner of The Turning Point on Cooper Street, says the penny is a nuisance.
However he says he’s noticed people don’t like feeling shortchanged and still take the pennies even if they only have one or two cents change.
Silver Snail Comics on Bank Street has been rounding to the nearest five-cent increment for more than 10 years. The pennies that are collected from the rounding are donated to CHEO. In 2012, the shop donated $1,400. In total, Silver Snail Comics has raised just over $11,000 and plans to continue donating.
Heather MacDonald, an employee at Silver Snail Comics, says “nobody cared” about the transition to rounding their purchases. MacDonald says only two people have complained because they wanted their money, so the store gave them a nickel.
Johnney Zyadeh, owner of JJ’s Market, says he rounds purchases all the time because he doesn’t like counting pennies.
He says stopping the distribution of the penny doesn’t matter to him.
Most customers pay by debit, but many still use cash, Zyadeh says. If a customer complains about the rounding, he says he always gives them a nickel.
Compact Music on Bank Street has also been rounding purchases for years, says employee Bruce McEwen. He says the business has pennies just in case a customer wants them in their change, but most customers don’t.
McEwen says the store doesn’t even count the pennies it has and it’s not a problem to balance the till.
McEwen says he doesn’t want to see the unwanted pennies go to waste. He says he has seen art made from them including sculptures and even flooring.
The government recommends charities take part in fundraisers to collect unwanted pennies or that Canadians donate their accumulated pennies to charity.
The rounding only affects cash purchases and the penny will remain legal tender indefinitely.
Businesses may also still price their goods in one-cent increments and there is no obligation to reprogram cash registers.