AMHERST – Today’s the day. The Mint will stop circulating pennies as of this date, Feb. 4. What will this mean for shoppers?
“It is going to be a rounding process,” said Mike Symonds, general manager of Canadian Tire, Amherst.
Symonds has contacted some other businesses in town and his impression is everyone is doing the same thing: for penny amounts ending in one and two, or six and seven, they’ll round down to the nearest nickel. For penny amounts ending in three and four, or eight and nine, they’ll round up. What’s important from the manager’s perspective is being the same as his competition.
The process will happen internally in the cash machines. Final prices, including tax, will end with a zero or five, regardless of payment method.
This deviates a bit from the federal government’s guidelines, which state that rounding only needs to occur with cash transactions (the same guidelines, issued by the Department of Finance, state pennies can still be used in cash transactions with any business that chooses to accept them).
Tim Horton’s is on-board with the government guidelines, according to manager Marina McWhirter.
“What they sent us, that’s what we’re going by.”
Mike LeBlanc of Mike’s Drive-Thru and Convenience doesn’t recall receiving notification from the government about the change.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I don’t remember seeing anything…”
The shopkeeper said the switch is a waste of money. His view is that after the mint stopped making them, pennies should have been allowed to gradually filter out of the system on their own. He thinks a lot of people just hang onto the coin. He doesn’t spend his, he said.
The elimination of the penny is motivating people to get rid of the coin, though.
“I get people every day…everybody trying to get rid of them,” said LeBlanc.
He expressed some concern he might run into objections from customers if he rounds his price up.
Symonds, at Canadian Tire, thinks a few weeks from now it will be the new normal. Sometimes the price will be rounded up but sometimes it will be rounded down in the customers favour.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge deal,” he said.
FACTOID: The Department of Finance is estimating phasing out the penny will save taxpayers about $11-million per year.