Local businesses feel impact of national coin shortage

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:01 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The United States Federal Reserve releases information about a national coin shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coin machines at Premier Financial Credit Union locations used virtually every day before coronavirus hit did not see as much traffic during the pandemic.

“People weren’t coming in on a regular basis bringing in that coin,” said Brad Grant, president and CEO of Premier Financial Credit Union.

The Federal Reserve cites that interruption of circulation patterns locally and across the country as one of the reasons for a temporary national coin shortage.

“For us, it affects mostly our business customers, because they are the ones that utilize more change. Now, with everybody ramping up and getting back to normal in their business settings, they’re going to need more coin, and we can’t order more coin from the Fed,” said Grant. “We do not get enough in on a daily basis to supply those businesses.”

Kwik Trip is one store reporting an impact in day-to-day business operations caused by the coin shortage. An email to Kwik Rewards members asks customers to to pay for purchases with exact change when using cash or by using an alternative method of payment altogether.

“We’re seeing an acceleration towards digital currencies, and I think this will probably help cause people to think a little bit more and maybe accelerate that kind of change,” said John Stoll, Economics professor at UW-Green Bay.

So what can you do right now? Experts agree it is time to cash in your change.

“We put a post out last week on Facebook just asking our members to bring in their coins,” said Sonny Schaar, marketing manager of Premier Financial Credit Union. “So, they can come through the drive-thru with smaller amounts or if they have larger amounts, they can make an appointment using our Facebook page or just call. We’ll meet them at the door, so they don’t even have to come in.”

“I wouldn’t want people to fear that we’re not going to have enough coins. As an economist, I think markets do work,” said Stoll. “Not always the way we would like to have, but they do work, and they respond. When there’s a shortage of coins out there, there’s going to be a lot of people looking for ways to solve that shortage.”

Action 2 News also reached out to Meijer to see how the grocery chain is being affected. Company officials sent us this statement early Tuesday evening:

“As a result of the national coin shortage caused by the pandemic, Meijer is temporarily converting the self-scan checkout lanes at most of our supercenters to credit/debit use only (they’ll also still accept Meijer gift cards and SNAP/EBT cards). Our staffed checkout lanes will continue to accept cash payments. While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores. We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience.”

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