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Many merchants not ready for loss of penny, survey finds

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Retailers still have work ahead of them to prepare for Monday's dropping of the penny.

About 55 per cent of merchants are ready for the phase-out, a survey by the Retail Council of Canada said. It found that 63 per cent of large retailers will change their cash-register systems to round out purchases, with a potential cost of $100,000 or more for each company, said the study released Wednesday.

"This represents a substantial cost for retailers to enable them to maintain standardization and meet consumers' needs," said Diane Brisebois, president of the council.

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However, 74 per cent of small retail businesses and 75 per cent of medium-sized businesses will round the amounts manually, it found.

Last March, Ottawa announced it would phase out the penny, starting on Monday, saying it will save $11-million a year in production costs.

Making each one-cent coin cost the Royal Canadian Mint about 1.6 cents.

Removing the six billion pennies from circulation will cost about about $38-million, a Finance Department analysis said.

The penny, which the Mint stopped producing on May 4, remains legal tender after Monday although it will no longer be distributed to retailers or financial institutions.

The retail council found that 56 per cent of respondents will implement the government's rounding guidelines for cash transactions (rounding down $1.01 or $1.02 to $1, for example, and rounding up $1.03 or $1.04 to $1.05), while 19 per cent said they will round down all cash transactions to the nearest five or 10 cents.

Most survey respondents (67 per cent) said they will not change cash-register systems but will round the price manually.

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