99c been around for decades

David Lawson, Peers Village

I refer to the letter from Margaret Matzener.

I must disagree with her that it started in the 1960s. Perhaps she is not as old as I, but I remember, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, material stores were selling fabric at £1.99 a metre. The reason given then was that the cashier had to open the till to give the customer the one penny change to avoid the money ending up in the cashier’s pocket.

In those days, it was called theft, now it’s called corruption.

Dennis Wright, Silverglades

Following up on Margaret Matzener’s letter regarding the irritating pricing method currently in use, I can add a few details.

The system of so-called psychological pricing came into use long before the 1960s. The first self-service supermarket was the Piggly-Wiggly established in America in 1916. Before then, shoppers went to a store with their requirements written on a piece of paper and gave it to a clerk behind a counter who had to pick the items from shelves behind him, and in some cases the clerk set the prices himself. The Piggly Wiggly had all items price marked.

The system was used in South Africa, according to Raymond Ackerman, by his father, Gus, who established Ackermans clothing and haberdashery store in 1916, resulting in prices such as 1/11 3/4 instead of just 2 shillings.

I remember, while still at junior school, going with my mother, in the 1930s, to Ackermans or Spracklens in Plein Street to shop, and also to Fletcher and Cartwrights grocery section where she handed in her piece of paper with her order written out.

The current self-service stores are certainly much easier, so let us hope that they abandon the outdated 99c system and revert to whole-number pricing.