Coronavirus creating nationwide coin shortage

Shortage may not have huge economic impact

ROANOKE, Va. – First there was a shortage of toilet paper, then meat and now coins.

A nationwide shortage of coins is not something you may have been expecting when the coronavirus pandemic began.

”I think there several things that have played into this,” Roanoke Valley Community Credit Union President Woody Windley said.

He said things like fewer coins being produced by the U.S. Mint during the pandemic, people paying with cash less frequently, and people not able to exchange coins with banks and credit unions as easily have created the shortage.

Snopes fact-checked the idea that the pandemic caused a coin shortage and found that indeed, the claim is well-founded. They pointed to a June 11 news release in which the U.S. Federal Reserve acknowledged the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic had significantly diminished the U.S. coin supply.

According to Snopes, “That’s primarily because members of the public had not been able to visit the places where they typically deposit coins, like retail stores, and exchange them for larger cash denominations (thus removing those coins from circulation) but also because the virus had put a strain on coin production at the U.S. Mint.”

Windley said the lack of cash, however, won’t be a huge issue going forward.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact because I do believe people have moved more towards cashless (forms of payment),” said Windley.

But not everyone has made the transition.

”We have seen minimal impact so far, but we do anticipate that could change,” Kroger Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Allison McGee said.

Kroger has two options for cash-paying customers to help with the shortage.

“Our customers can round up to the next nearest dollar for our Kroger Zero Hunger Zero Waste foundation. That supports hunger relief efforts across the communities we serve,” said McGee.

As of Friday, more than $20,000 had been raised.

“If you look at a recent four week time period, we’ve been able to raise about $25,000 through our round up (program.) That’s in the entire Mid-Atlantic division,” McGee explained.

The second option is to have your change loaded onto your loyalty card.

“That money can be redeemed on their next transaction,” said McGee.

Other businesses have put up signs offering to buy change from customers or asking customers to pay with exact change.

Windley said he anticipates the shortage will likely be over in about a month.