The US is currently facing a coin shortage due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing stores to get creative at the register.
Why did it happen? The US Mint’s new social distancing and safety measures slowed the production of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Likewise, with nationwide lockdowns, the flow of coins from customers to coin-sorting kiosks, banks, and businesses also slowed.
With people unsure of how long the coronavirus could survive on surfaces, many were also wary of using cash during transactions. Instead, they opted for credit cards they could wipe down or contactless payment through phones.
“The places where you go to give your coins and get credit, cash…those have not been working,” US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said back in June. “Stores have been closed. So the whole system of flow has kind of come to a stop. We’re well aware of this.”
As a result, major retailers are making changes to transactions with the ongoing coin shortage.
Retailers Respond to Coin Shortage
Walmart and CVS are encouraging their customers to not use cash, especially if they don’t have the exact amount of change needed. Likewise, Newsweek reports that some self-checkout counters at Walmart locations are only accepting card payments now.
While the Kroger chain is accepting cash, they aren’t giving out change to customers. Purchases are rounded up and customers can choose between donating their change to Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation or adding the change to a loyalty card. The card can be used on their future transactions.
Like Kroger, Texas-based H-E-B is allowing customers to donate their change to local food banks and non-profits. They are also testing several strategies to buy and conserve coins from customers as a longterm solution.