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COVID-19 causes coin shortage

Nationwide coin shortage
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:20 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Going to the car wash, laundry-mat or even the snack or coke machine might be more difficult these days. COVID-19 has caused another problem, a change shortage in parts of the country.

Don’t be surprised if you go to a checkout and see a sign that reads “Please pay with correct cash or card.” With the economy being on pause due to the pandemic, the coin distribution network was put on pause as well. As a result, there is a nationwide coin shortage.

Chief Operations Officer at Friend Bank, Judson Brooks, said he got word from customers that there is a coin shortage. Soon later, they received confirmation from the Federal Reserve.

“I personally heard customers commenting seeing it at restaurants and businesses, then we were contacted shortly after from the Federal Reserve that there was some challenges with coin shortage throughout the country,” Brooks said. “And they wanted to make sure they were allocating coins properly to the banks to ensure there was distribution throughout the country.”

The U.S. circulation of coins slowed down when millions of stores were forced to close for months at a time.

“People were not shopping and so there was just no, the coin distribution in the network was just not as strong,” Brooks said.

People using debit cards and online payments creates little amounts of coin used in the distribution network. Brooks said most people probably have coins at home and they are just not being used. During this time there were not as many coins being produced either.

“Just like a lot of businesses, the U.S. Mint had to go into a situation where they were not fully staffed,” Brooks said. “They did not shut down, but they were not able to produce coin at the level they were before the virus.”

Getting change at the store may vary these days, some stores you may not at all. Brooks believes there is a good chance this shortage will pass in the near future.

“I believe this will pass, as people begin to go into restaurants again and are back shopping in person versus online that there will be more coin placed back into the network and the U.S. Mint has gone back to full staff so they are producing coin at the level they were before the virus shut everyone down,” Brooks said.

Until then, rather than throwing your coins in a drawer or piggy bank, he suggests for people to pay with correct cash and coin while shopping.

“I think during the interim, if people are more conscious of trying to take some coin with them to pay with coin, it will start building that coin into the network and I think that will help move things more smoothly,” Brooks said.

Brooks said to be clear it is only a coin shortage, not paper money. He said the Friend Bank is still receiving an allotment of coins from the fed and can accommodate to their customers. However, going into stores may result in a denial of receiving change.

If you see a store that is accepting card or exact payment only, please let us know by emailing news@wtvy.com

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