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National coin shortage due to coronavirus hits Central Coast

Posted at 11:01 AM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 13:45:01-04

In need of change? The pandemic has coin change on hold.

Banks and businesses have less coins on hand. The nationwide issue is impacting the Central Coast now as well.

San Luis Obispo resident Debbie Procter needed change for her laundry. It wasn't as easy to come by.

"I did what I do every month," she said. "I walked to Vons to buy a couple of rolls of quarters from the customer service. And they say they no longer do that."

Procter tried to get change by purchasing eggs with a $20 bill, the cashier denied . "She says, 'No we can't do that, we're not allowed to do that anymore.'"

The Federal Reserve reported there is a coin shortage. It is because of the pandemic, which has significantly disrupted the supply chain and the way U.S. coins are circulated.

"Basically, the supply shrunk because coins were just out of circulation so when the economy restarted it really created a supply issue," Billy Carroll, SmartBank President and CEO, said.

We spoke with a number of local banks. They say they are giving out a limited number of rolls to those with an account. Be sure to call your bank ahead of time to see what change you can receive. Meanwhile, some stores are asking customers to pay with cards or have exact change.

The U.S. Mint says its production of coins has decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees from the coronavirus.

"The Mint, so their staff, they were on their pandemic plan, so their staff wasn't there to be able to produce the normal allotment and it really created that perfect coin storm," Carroll said.

Officials at the Federal Reserve say they are working to lessen the effects of the shortage, to minimize supply constraints and maximize production.

The agency is managing how it distributes the coins it does have and is encouraging institutions to only order enough coins to meet consumer demand.

Its not clear how long this supply issue will last. Federal Reserve officials say they are confident the coin shortage will be resolved once more of the economy opens and coins go back to being circulated as usual.

This time last year, cash was by far the preferred payment method for purchases under $10, according to a survey. Some 49% of U.S. Adults said they typically made these smaller buys with cash, 35% usually paid with a debit card and 16% with a credit card.