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Why €2 and 20 cents take up so much of retailers time

Published: 2. februari 2016

For a most retail stores the €2 coins and 20 cent coins require constant attention. One would think that all coins would require more or less the same attention. But there are both theoretical and practical reasons that the focus is on €2 and 20 cent coins. In prices you can often see the digit 9, perhaps for promotional reasons. This would need a change paid with the digit 1, e.g. the price is 2.99 would perhaps need change paid of 0.01 or 2.01. In supermarkets the customer buys several products and the digit 9 gets added a few times and you end up with a good spread of the digits in the total to pay or give in change.

Let’s take look at paying the optimal change in cents:

Change Value (cents) Change Coins
1 1
2 2
3 2+1
4 2+2
5 5
6 5+1
7 5+2
8 5+2+1
9 5+2+2


If you paid change for these nine values, you used four pieces of 1 cent, eight pieces of 2 cents and one piece of 5 cent. Eight pieces of 2 cents or double that of 1 cent. The same applies for 20 cents and €2. With rather evenly distributed amounts to pay, the float becomes the same. €2 are paid more as change than €1, and 20 cents more than 10 cents. But it usually stops there, and does not include 2 cents. Why not 2 cents? By the same logic, the 2 cent coin would also be consumed a lot at the checkouts. It is, but since the relative value is low at one tenth or a hundredth, the store can have plenty of 2 cent coins.

The even price digit distribution means that the store manager and chief cashier should focus their coin management on €2 and 20 cents. Now you know why. So in most supermarkets when managing float, pay attention to the €2 and 20 cent coins.