With only one week until the ’round pound’ comes to an end, retailers are still having to remind shoppers that the coins will soon lose their legal tender status.
From midnight on October 15, the old £1 coins will no longer be accepted in shops and restaurants. HM Treasury and The Royal Mint are calling on people to either bank, donate or spend any remaining coins before the weekend.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), however, has advised retailers to continue taking the round £1 coins to provide a ’useful community service’ for customers.
David Wyatt, owner of Costcutter service station in Copthorne, West Sussex, said the advice from the ACS was sensible. “It’s a good idea for stores to keep taking the old coins. We as shop owners can collect the money from shoppers and the banks will still take the money after the deadline, even if people forget.
“No matter how much notice you give people there is always going to be some that are still unaware of the changes. We have a big sign up outside the store letting people know when we will stop taking the old £1 coins.”
More than 1.2 billion old coins have already been returned to the Treasury over the past six months.
Sid Ali, owner of five Nisa stores in Aberdeenshire, believes customers are still confused by the deadline.
“We seem to be getting more and more of them coming in now. It doesn’t help that the deadline is not at the end of the month. People still don’t know they can’t use the old coins because there has been very little in the news and the press about it,” he said.
Banks in Sid’s area don’t open on a Saturday or Sunday so he has been forced to clear out his tills weeks in advance, in order to meet the deadline.
He added: “I don’t think the advice from the ACS is very sensible because if you are a small business and have £1,000 in old money, how can you cash that in if you don’t have time to get to the banks soon enough? And most can’t afford to have that amount of money tied up.”
But Maura Tumilson, manager of Centra Chichester Street in Belfast, said her customers had already made the transition to the new £1 coins.
She said: “We haven’t got very many old coins left in our store. People seem to already be comfortable with the new ones and the amount of transactions made with the old coins is very minimal.”
Adam Lawerence, ceo and deputy master of The Royal Mint, said: “The round pound has been in circulation for over 30 years but, as the deadline approaches, we are keen to encourage everyone to track down their final coins and use them.
“After the 15 October, the 12-sided £1 coin will be the only £1 coin being spent in the UK. As the deadline is triggered, we are proud that the security features on the 12-sided £1 coin will help to safeguard our currency for years to come.”