The Treasury and the Royal Mint are urging UK shoppers to check down the back of sofas and empty their piggybanks, as the round pound enters its final week as legal tender before being replaced by a new 12-sided coin.

Round pounds were first introduced in 1983, when the old pound notes were gradually phased out. Critics have suggested the changeover period to the new coin – launched in March – has been too quick and low-profile.

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said over the weekend that “it would help if small firms knew they were allowed a short transition period to collect the old coins if they wish to and are willing to bank them – but not give out to customers.

“This would provide a useful community service, allowing customers a few weeks to get rid of the final few pound coins in circulation,” Mr Cherry told the Guardian.

Retailer Poundland has announced it will still accept the old pound coins at its 850 UK stores until October 31, but they will cease to be accepted by the vast majority of retailers on Sunday.

“We are the official home of the pound, so it’s a no-brainer that we offer all Brits the opportunity to spend their hard-earned round pounds for longer,” said managing director Barry Williams.

Andrew Jones, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said the public had already handed in more than 1.2bn old coins over the past six months.

Mr Jones said:

Added together, these coins match the weight of around 3,500 elephants or 900 double-decker buses. That is a lot of coins!

There is still time to get involved and with just a week to go, I would encourage anyone who is yet to do so to dig out their remaining coins before Sunday.

Savers will still be able to empty their piggybanks of round pounds at most high street banks and Post Offices after the deadline has passed.

Convincing the public to change cash is clearly a tricky task. A highly visible similar campaign in Sweden earlier this year struggled to lure shoppers and savers to their local banks.

(Image: Bloomberg)

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