Latvia adopted the euro on 1 January, thus becoming the 18th member of the euro area. The changeover is proceeding according to plan.
According to a recent Commission survey, already two-thirds of cash payments in shops were made in euro only on the fourth changeover day (Saturday 4 January). Virtually all customers (95 %) were also getting their change in euro. More than a third of the citizens polled said they carry only euro cash in their wallets (35 % carrying only euro banknotes and 34 % only euro coins). Euro coins had been made available to Latvians already in December by way of euro coin starter kits. Some 584,000 were sold by 31/12/2013, together with 70,000 specific retailer starter kits.
The retail sector has been coping well with the changeover process and parallel handling of two currencies. No major problems regarding queues or problems at the tills have been reported. Some small shops in rural areas that are not located close to a bank or post office are facing challenges, since they are used by citizens as “de facto exchange offices”.
Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are functioning normally in euro. The number and volume of withdrawals have remained the same as in “lats times”. Post offices which are usually closed on Saturdays were open on Saturday 4 January, with a view to facilitating the changeover.
The Latvian Consumer Rights Protection Centre (CRPC) continues to carry out daily inspections to monitor that businesses respect the changeover rules and that prices are properly converted at the official conversion rate of 0.702804 Latvian lats to one euro. Citizens have been asking questions on the changeover and conveying complaints to the dedicated “Euro-Info” Hotline and the CRPC. All questions and complaints are handled diligently by the competent authorities.
Source: European Commission