Nationwide coin shortage impacting local businesses and banks

Local coin shortage

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A nationwide shortage of coins is not something you may have been expecting when the Coronvairus pandemic began.

The coin shortage was caused when the U.S. Mint reduced the number of employees working to ensure social distancing and therefore affected the amount of coins produced.

In response to the shortage signs like this have started to pop up at dozens of local businesses. As a result, local businesses are asking customers to use exact change or pay with credit or debit.

Burger King, Westlake
Burger King, Westlake (Source: KPLC)

“The last time, I did a little research, it was in the early ’60s whenever there was a coin impact and that was because of slow production from the U.S. mint and then around the mid 60′s it picked up again,” said JD Bank Sr. VP/Operation Manager Angel Papadimitriou.

The shortage is also impacting major retailers. Kroger announced Monday that its cashiers will stop returning coins as change to customers who pay with cash. Instead, customers will have two options to collect their change:

They can add the change to a loyalty card to apply on their next visit, or

Round up and donate to the Zero Hunger|Zero Waste Foundation to help area food banks.

“It impacts us a lot because a lot of people still pay with cash. Not everyone has a debit or credit card,” said ShopRite Tobacco Plus Marketing Director Carter Ledbetter.

However, Ledbetter says they’re looking at the brighter side of the pandemic. While the change may not be flowing as they want, they’ve figured out an alternative.

“We are going to encourage customers to round up to the nearest dollar of their purchase and that coin or change will be donated to St. Jude,” Ledbetter said.

The impact of the shortage has also been felt at local banks. Angel Papadimitriou, a Senior Vice President at JD bank says the Federal Reserve is limiting their coin supply as well.

“It wasn’t just JD bank, banks across the nation...based on our average they have to limit all banks no matter if you ordered more (coins), they’re (Federal Reserve) only giving what they say you can have,” said Papadimitriou.

She says the shortage hasn’t reached a cause for concern yet. In Southwest Louisiana, she’s hopeful that the industries that have been able to thrive amidst the pandemic can make up for the lost change.

“It’s hard when you’re booming because we had a booming industry here in 2019 and it continued at the beginning of 2020,” Papadimitriou said. “We’ll get back on track but we need this to help our businesses.”

Federal Reserve officials say they’re hopeful that the coin shortage will be resolved within 2 to 3 weeks.

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