Yet another casualty of COVID-19 is a shortage of coins in the U.S., according to media reports and confirmed by the Federal Reserve. This may or may not be affecting retail glass businesses, as most people pay via credit card. And many retail stores had already stopped accepting cash, as an extra precaution to stop the virus’ spread. But if you do rely on change, this could be an issue. However, according to a Fortune article, one banking expert refers to it as a circulation problem—not a shortage.
“A lot of folks shifted the way they paid” after the coronavirus outbreak, said Cary Whaley, vice president at Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), a trade group for small banks, in the article. “They weren’t paying in cash, so they weren’t taking it to restaurants and banks and getting it into circulation.”
The Federal Reserve confirms on its website that this is indeed an issue.
“Business and bank closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins,” states the website. “While there is an adequate overall amount of coins in the economy, the slowed pace of circulation has reduced available inventories in some areas of the country.”
The Federal Reserve states that is working with the U.S. Mint and others in the industry on solutions. As a first step, a temporary cap was imposed on the orders depository institutions place for coins with the Federal Reserve to ensure that the current supply is fairly distributed. In addition, a U.S. Coin Task Force was formed to identify, implement and promote actions to address disruptions to coin circulation, according to the website.
Since mid-June, the U.S. Mint has been operating at full production capacity, minting almost 1.6 billion coins in June and is on track to mint 1.65 billion coins per month for the remainder of the year.
As the economy recovers and businesses reopen, the Federal Reserve states that more coins will flow back into retail and banking channels and, eventually, into the Federal Reserve, which should allow for the rebuilding of coin inventories.
One retailer, Chick-fil-A, got creative at two of its locations by asking customers to bring in coins to get a coupon for free food, according to an article from CNBC.