How to make change – and get it right

By Adam Lukoskie
Published May 21, 2021

When it comes to giving the correct change, all sides of the transaction need this to be accurate.

This was true when I started behind the cash register at a big-box retailer in my first job in 1999, and it is still true today.

Hand the customer too much change and your drawer is off at the end of your shift, and you can face discipline – or even dismissal if it keeps happening. Give the customer too little change and you’ve got a problem, too.

Can you make change?

Test your skills with our interactive calculator.

Most retailers are now accepting contactless payments in-store, according to research by the National Retail Federation and Forrester. But there are consumers who still prefer or need to use cash, and retailers must continue to accept a variety of payment options. That means they need workers who have the confidence and ability to make correct change.

It is one of the most important – and tough to teach – foundational retail skills.

When we developed our NRF Foundation retail skills credentials, we collaborated with more than 20 retailers to ensure the courses would teach the skills they need their employees to know. And one of our most popular lessons is an interactive calculator that teaches you how to make correct change.

We’ve broken this feature out and made it available on its own for anyone to use – retailers, educators and parents – because learning to make change is one of the many ways that retail teaches people how to go to work. This free, online tool is an easy place to practice this in-demand skill – with real-world transactions and immediate feedback. 

When we get this career preparation right, we open up extraordinary opportunities for people to get jobs and advance in an industry that’s in every community across the country and is the largest private sector-employer in the economy, according to the National Retail Federation.

The industry is critical to helping hundreds of thousands get first starts and next chances, and the benefits extend beyond securing an entry-level role. It is a great place to get experience for a variety of jobs, since 71 percent of hiring managers say that retail prepares employees with transferable skills and experience that apply across a variety of industries.

For better careers for individuals and larger, more skilled talent pools for employers, you can count on retail to help all sides.  

Adam Lukoskie is the vice president of the NRF Foundation, NRF’s nonprofit. The NRF Foundation provides the skills and resources needed for a life-changing career and connects people to an industry that’s a great place to start and a great place to grow. A version of this post also appears on NAWBlog, the National Association of Workforce Board’s blog that highlights stories of interest in the workforce development world.

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