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Old 04-14-2005, 11:32 AM
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Cash Drawers & Tills - Smallest Denomintaions Go From Left To Right or Vice Versa?


After a guest bartending gig last night, I noticed what I used to assume was an exclusively Bronx/Italian phenomenon in Babylon LI, at a small tavern owned by a Polish Woman.

This bar - as well as the 2 businesses I work for in the Bronx/Westchester area - keep their currency 'backwards' in their cash drawers.

In most (American) tills, there are five compartments for coins and five for paper currency. Since I've been old enough to have working papers, every retail establishment - with the exception of the three I mentioned above - have had their cash drawers laid-out as follows:
Left Compartment: Pennies & Dollar Bills
2nd Compartment: Nickels & Five Dollar Bills
3rd Compartment: Dimes & Ten Dollar Bills
4th Compartment: Quarters & Twenties
Right Compartment: A Melange of Half Dollar / Dollar Coins & Fifty / Hundred Dollar Bills.
Don't ask me where the $2 bills go - it's not often I have my fingers in the kitty.

Since last night, I've been bothered by the fact I've now been in 3 places where they keep the cash in their drawers backwards; with the larger denominations on the left and the smaller denominations on the right. I guess I'm lucky; when I counted out the take last night, I balanced - So no one got four $20s change on a $6 drink.

I have one (poll) question: Have you ever worked in a place where they buck the trend and lay their tills out 'backwards'?

It's not like these places are managed by East Asians or Middle Easterners - That I could understand.

I'm not calling for a new federal regulation that requires all business establishments to have one standardized way of laying-out their cash drawers.

I guess there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way - But the xenophobic westerner in me keeps whispering, 'left to right - in size order'.

Have I found the only 3 places in the entire US that follow the large to the left & small to the right cash drawer layout...or are there others?
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:39 AM
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Er... everywhere I've ever worked has had it "backwards", large on the left. I always assumed it was because most people are right handed and you use more ones than anything. Cash drawers I have known include one major retail (Suncoast) and several libraries.
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:40 AM
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I haven't worked in retail for years, but I do patronize a lot of businesses, and it seems to me that every cash drawer I have ever seen has the ones on the right and the higher bills on the left. I'll have to start paying attention now.
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBckWLD
I have one (poll) question: Have you ever worked in a place where they buck the trend and lay their tills out 'backwards'?
IME, lower denominations are on the right, and higher denominations are on the left. It's been this way in every till I've ever seen.

Now, it may make sense to put the currency in the tills in ascending order from left to right. That's how we read and count, after all.

But most people are right-handed, and most change is in smaller denominations. Thus, it makes sense to have the smaller denominations on the right because they will get the most use and will be easier to reach with the right hand.
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:43 AM
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IOW, the Bronx/Westchester area seems to be predominantly 'backward'; not every other place I've seen.
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:46 AM
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Everywhere I've ever worked has 20s and higher on the left down to dollars and pennies on the right.
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:52 AM
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Hmmmm, Maybe I have it backwards...and most places don't.

I'm basing my small to the left -> large to the right till experience on:
  • 2) Gas stations (At age 15)
  • 3) 7-11 Convenience stores (Ages 16-18)
  • 1) Beer Distributor
  • 2) Lumber Yards
  • 1) Hospital TV Rental Service
  • The cash drawers & Quick Draw Lottery Machine @ the Restaurant / Tap Room I have a partnership in
Like Fat Bald Guy, I too am gonna keep my eyes open and make a mental note of other places I do business with.

Maybe Zsofia's theory on bias toward left handed people is the case.
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Old 04-14-2005, 12:00 PM
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I'm with JohnBckWLD on this one. Of course, my retail experience is one hardware store and a Wal-mart, but in both of them, the ones/pennies were on the left, and large bills on the right.
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Old 04-14-2005, 12:42 PM
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I was always told to keep the ones in the compartment closest to the customer. That way if anyone decided to grab and run, they get a handfull of ones, and not the $100 or $50s.
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Old 04-14-2005, 01:45 PM
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Yup, everywhere I've ever been is the same: Ones on right, going up in denomination to the left.
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Old 04-14-2005, 03:41 PM
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Probably itís because Iím a coin collector, but I actually pay attention to this, though Iíve never worked in retail. When I first read the topic on the main menu, I thought, ďSmall bills and coins on the left, large on the right.Ē I was surprised to learn that so many other people from other parts of the country do it differently, because Iím sure thatís how the cash drawers in New York City tend to be arranged. Iím originally from western Pennsylvania, and I confess I canít remember how itís done out there.

It never occurred to me to wonder, but it seems that whatís ďrightĒ depends on where youíre from, for the most part. Next time Iím in western Pennsylvania or Ohio Iíll have to check. Before I read this, I would have assumed they did it small on the left and large on the right there, but now Iím not sure at all.

I did work as a dishwasher for a while. Sometimes Iíd come in after someone else to start my shift, and the previous guy (they were always guys) would have had the dirty silverware arranged in a particular way. The silverware soaked in a four-part plastic tray filled with soapy water. It was never clear enough to see the silverware at a glance. Every dishwasher, it seemed, had their own system. Mine put the forks on the left, the butter knives next, then the spoons, then odds and ends on the right. When I started a shift, the first thing Iíd do would be to switch the silverware. This only ran into trouble when we were really busy, and we had several guys back in the hole. Thatís when worlds collided, and we all leaned toward the wise counsel of the guy who came up with the idea of just tossing dirty silverware into the garbage. You could get into trouble for that, but it sure sped things up!

I guess I got off topic, but I just had to share.
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Old 04-14-2005, 04:54 PM
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All the cash registers I've ever worked around Chicago or SF were ones on the right. Just like how we write numbers.
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Old 04-14-2005, 07:13 PM
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The ones I work with have the ones on the right, then the fives, tens, twenties, and an empty slot for anything else bigger or odd (like a coupon) that comes along.
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Old 04-14-2005, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tastes of Chocolate
I was always told to keep the ones in the compartment closest to the customer. That way if anyone decided to grab and run, they get a handfull of ones, and not the $100 or $50s.
Exactly. I've been a cashier for a major retailer for over 20 years, in several different locations, and each store was set up slighly different. In the ones where the customer was on our left, the money is small>large, and vice-versa when the customers are on the right.
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Old 04-14-2005, 10:38 PM
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When I worked retail, my large bills were on the left. Years later, when I was a change cart attendant in a casino, I arranged my till the same way.

With a cart that people walk up to willy-nilly, of course, you'll never be in a position where your large denominations will be farthest from the guest, but arranging the bills this way just seemed to me to be natural somehow. And it worked.

Well, it worked for me, but YMMV.
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Old 04-15-2005, 01:01 AM
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I've worked in retail and restaurants and in a credit union in three different states over the last 30 years and the ones have always been on the right, with the last space on the left for the bundle of extra ones (with the large bills hidden underneath) and for the rolls of coins. $2 bills get given out to the next person as quickly as possible, and half-dollar/dollar coins get tossed in with the rolls of coins until they are also given away quickly.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:31 AM
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Cash Drawer Logic


I think I might have figured it out.
In my earlier years, when cashiers would actually count your change back to you. ahem...we would arrange our drawers smallest to largest, from LEFT to RIGHT.

We read and count from LEFT to RIGHT.

So if the amount due was let's say, $9.46 and you had to break a twenty for example, you would start from the pennies on the LEFT and work your way up to the RIGHT.
You might say, "$9.46 out of twenty." From the LEFT you count backwards starting with the pennies, "...47, 48, 49, 50." Then to the nickles, "...55, 60."
Then to the dimes, " 70, 80, 90, $10.00" [depending on the selection of coins available in your drawer. But it's counted backwards - to the customer - as a courtesy and convenience to the customer.] You might do, 47, 48, 49, 50, then right to the [2] quarters. "and 50 makes ten."
Then the bills, starting from LEFT to RIGHT, the ones, "...11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and five [five dollar bill] makes twenty."
Make sense?

Fast forward to registers that do the math for you.

"$9.46 is your total, and $10.54 is your change [out of a twenty]- have a nice day!" As they pull cash from LEFT to RIGHT, starting with the largest denominations, the 10, then 2 quarters, finishing with 4 pennies. As we would normally WRITE a number or a cash amount. And PLOP, a handful of "something" gets dumped in your hand, usually cash is crumpled and not even FACED. Hence, how drawers might "seem" to be set up "backwards" to a person operating under a previous generation's "cash handling" protocols.

Have a nice day!
  #18  
Old 09-21-2019, 08:57 AM
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Store cashier here. Large on the left, small on the right. I think it's a right-handed thing, and I am glad of it, having a disabled left hand.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:15 PM
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Large on the left. Bills and coins.

This matches the order of Hindu-Arabic numbers and that helps quite a bit in learning and using the system.

Also, you do NOT give the customers the big stuff first. You start with pennies and count out loud up to the amount the customer just handed you. In addition to being clearer and less prone to error, you don't have the idiocy of the clerk trying to put coins on top of bills.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
.

Now, it may make sense to put the currency in the tills in ascending order from left to right. That's how we read and count, after all.
$1234

That's One thousand. two hundreds, three 10's and 4 ones.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:43 PM
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I remember when $10 would buy a bag of groceries with change. $20 would buy several bags of groceries.

Ones and fives were the most common bills for change. It made sense they were in the right side of the cash drawer.

We use bigger bills today but the cash drawers haven't changed.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:50 PM
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I used to live in Westchester. I can assure you that they do do everything backwards there and have strange names for things. I really hated everything about that place. I live somewhere else now

Last edited by Macca26; 09-21-2019 at 05:51 PM.
  #23  
Old 09-21-2019, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejwickes@hotmail.com View Post
. . .In my earlier years, when cashiers would actually count your change back to you. . . .Fast forward to registers that do the math for you. . .
What years are you actually referring to here? Cash registers have been "doing the math" for at least three decades, I'm sure. Are you suggesting that the OP's jobs were before then?
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:15 PM
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Every place I worked had the lower denominations on the left.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:17 PM
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I don't think I've even seen anyplace that kept the lower denominations on the left. I've always put them on the right, and seeing the opposite should be something that would stand out.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:38 PM
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What is this!?!?
Not everyone does it the correct way of credit card, void out and refund receipts, 2, 50 and 100 dollar bills on the far left then 20 10 5 1 bills and 50 cent/dollar coins followed by quarters dimes nickels pennies also from left to right?

It's been a lot of years since I was responsible for a till, but I still remember the explanation for it. It's how we write our numbers and do math, higher values to the left. This was right before registers became work stations in a network with touch screens. The register would do the math, but if you weren't proficient at keying in the amount tendered or miskeyed, you had to be able to do the math in your head. Especially if you miskeyed, because once you hit the sale button, everything but the incorrect change was gone without looking at the tape or receipt.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejwickes@hotmail.com View Post
I think I might have figured it out.
In my earlier years, when cashiers would actually count your change back to you. ahem...we would arrange our drawers smallest to largest, from LEFT to RIGHT.

We read and count from LEFT to RIGHT.

So if the amount due was let's say, $9.46 and you had to break a twenty for example, you would start from the pennies on the LEFT and work your way up to the RIGHT.
You might say, "$9.46 out of twenty." From the LEFT you count backwards starting with the pennies, "...47, 48, 49, 50." Then to the nickles, "...55, 60."
Then to the dimes, " 70, 80, 90, $10.00" [depending on the selection of coins available in your drawer. But it's counted backwards - to the customer - as a courtesy and convenience to the customer.] You might do, 47, 48, 49, 50, then right to the [2] quarters. "and 50 makes ten."
Then the bills, starting from LEFT to RIGHT, the ones, "...11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and five [five dollar bill] makes twenty."
Make sense?

Fast forward to registers that do the math for you.

"$9.46 is your total, and $10.54 is your change [out of a twenty]- have a nice day!" As they pull cash from LEFT to RIGHT, starting with the largest denominations, the 10, then 2 quarters, finishing with 4 pennies. As we would normally WRITE a number or a cash amount. And PLOP, a handful of "something" gets dumped in your hand, usually cash is crumpled and not even FACED. Hence, how drawers might "seem" to be set up "backwards" to a person operating under a previous generation's "cash handling" protocols.

Have a nice day!
Except largest on the left, smallest on the right precedes the days of electronic cash registers. And when I worked a register, I could count back change without the register telling me how much to give back. As others have said, most people are right-handed and use their right hand to take change from the drawer, so it's easiest to start with the smaller denominations on the right.

Last edited by cochrane; 09-21-2019 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:06 PM
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I have one (poll) question: Have you ever worked in a place where they buck the trend and lay their tills out 'backwards'?
Every place I ever worked with a cash drawer , including a bank, had the larger bills on the left . And none of those places were in the Bronx or Westchester or even Long Island. They were in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. I could count back change from right to left ( and sometimes had to even when the register did the math - I wasn't going to void he whole thing because I mis-keyed the amount tendered,

Whether the higher bills are on the right or left is arbitrary, just like driving on the right or left side of the road. It doesn't matter if we drive on the left or on the right- what matters is that a particular place chooses one or the other and sticks with it. But for the cash drawer, consistency doesn't matter- there's no reason that McDonald's has to do it the same way as Wendy's which is he same way as Dunkin Donuts.
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:48 AM
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I've worked retail in a candy store, two shoe repair stores, and now a big box franchise with 240+ stores in six states. All of them were large denominations on the left, smaller on the right.

Really, the most important thing is for the store to be consistent to minimize fumbling and giving out the wrong change,
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:07 AM
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Australian hotel.
Bills are in a row across the top, lower denomination to the right.
Coins are in a row across the bottom, higher to the right
Something like this, where "(" and ")" are the till edges, and "|" are the dividers.
(cc slip|50$|20$|10$|5$)
(5Ę|10Ę|20Ę|50Ę|1$|2$)
  #31  
Old 09-22-2019, 09:12 AM
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$2, $50 and $100 bills go under the tray so someone can't just reach in and snatch them. Or, if you have one of those safes-with-the-slot under the counter, they go in there immediately--after you gold pen them; they're checking $10 bills, now.

The manager of a Blockbuster I worked at demanded all bills had to face the same way--three strikes and you were out. Then he got fired for stealing.

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 09-22-2019 at 09:12 AM.
  #32  
Old 09-22-2019, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by burpo the wonder mutt View Post
$2, $50 and $100 bills go under the tray so someone can't just reach in and snatch them.
This is why no one uses two-dollar bills. Cashiers hide them away instead of giving them out as change.

I doubt anyone is going to be especially tempted to snatch away a two-dollar bill.
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Old 09-22-2019, 11:27 AM
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This is why no one uses two-dollar bills. Cashiers hide them away instead of giving them out as change.

I doubt anyone is going to be especially tempted to snatch away a two-dollar bill.
Sorry, I meant $2 bills went under so you didn't give back too much change (if you stuck it the ones slot.)

You'd be surprised how many people refused to accept a $2 bill as change.
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Old 09-22-2019, 11:28 AM
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Another "cash registers I've used have big bills on the left, small ones on the right" vote here.
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Old 09-22-2019, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by burpo the wonder mutt View Post
Sorry, I meant $2 bills went under so you didn't give back too much change (if you stuck it the ones slot.)



You'd be surprised how many people refused to accept a $2 bill as change.
I've never been given a two-dollar bill as change, except once when I specifically asked for one. Several times, upon asking, I was told they weren't kept in the drawer.
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Old 09-22-2019, 01:22 PM
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After reading the OP, I paid attention today for one datapoint. The one French bar I visited today had the larger denominations on the left.
  #37  
Old 09-22-2019, 09:37 PM
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At the museum where I work, smallest to largest goes right to left.

That's the only till I can recall ever operating, so I have no comparison to work with.
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