RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The COVID-19 pandemic could impact the way you pay for items in a rather unexpected way — because it’s causing a coin shortage.
Coins are a part of our life, always just there. Normally, we really don’t think about them until suddenly they’re not around.
Even in a world of debit and charge cards, pocket change is still important and because of that retailers are nickel and diming folks.
“I’ve seen a lot of places asking you to use correct change,” said shopper John Messer.
Whether it’s at the local gas station or in your favorite store, there are signs everywhere around the Triangle warning customers about the coin shortage.
Turns out, it’s a nationwide problem.
How did we get here? It’s a ripple effect from the pandemic.
When the pandemic began, the U.S. Mint scaled back its production of coins, taking workers off the production line to protect them from the virus. Coin collectors were first to notice the impact.
As the pandemic shutdowns increased, many retail locations like banks and store kiosks that normally accepted coins closed during the pandemic, cutting off another source of coin circulation.
On top of that, many places instituted contact-less payment, requiring only cards to avoid the exchange of money that might be contaminated.
Put that all together, and you’ve got a shortage.
Normally, retailers normally order large lots of wrapped coins from the banks, but right now banks are limiting how many boxes of coins they’ll let merchants have because the Federal Reserve is rationing its distribution of coins.
That means customers need to try to find their own ways to deal with the shortage.
“I think I probably have about 100 bucks in coins I could add,’’ said shopper Bill Beechtold.
Beechtold said if he should need to pay for purchases in coinage, he’d be happy to help.
Unless people start hoarding coins, like they did with hand sanitizer and toilet paper, the Federal Reserve has told banks and others, as the economy slowly reopens it expects the coin shortage to ease as more and more people start putting coins back into circulation.
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