CLEVELAND, Ohio — Coronavirus is causing a shortage of U.S. coins, and retailers are changing their policies to adapt. Banks, too, are watching the situation closely.
The Federal Reserve, which distributes coins to banks and credit unions, said the pandemic has “significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin,” in a news release this month.
The U.S. Mint has slowed coin production to protect workers. During the height of the shutdown, fewer coins came back to the Federal Reserve from banks.
As states have reopened, banks began asking for more coins, “resulting in the Federal Reserve’s coin inventory being reduced to below normal levels,” the news release said.
The Fed this month began temporarily giving banks a set amount of available coins, based on factors including historic order volume, and the current U.S. Mint manufacturing rate. The limits could be reviewed and changed in the future.
Retailers like Meijer are temporarily limiting the use of cash in most of its stores to help offset the coin shortage. Shoppers can largely only use cash at an in-person checkout line. Self-checkout machines are limited to credit and debit cards.
“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,” Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi said in an email.
A sign at Lowe’s in Fairlawn over the weekend read: “Attention customers: The U.S. is currently experiencing a coin shortage. Please use correct change or other forms of tender if possible.”
KeyBank said it’s monitoring the coin shortage and has guidelines in place to help manage coin circulation.
The bank said it “will continue to work to minimize the impact on our clients.”
The Fed suggests that banks only order the coins they need and allow customers to deposit rolls of coins again.