BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME (OR A NICKEL OR A PENNY)?
Jul 16, 2020 - Articles
Just when toilet paper is finally back on the store shelves, a new shortage is facing the nation. Change. That’s right, there is now a national shortage of coins– quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. From Starbucks to Wawa, stores are asking customers to pay with exact change or to use credit or debit cards.
Evidently, the nationwide shut-down due to the novel coronavirus has caused a “disruption in the coin supply chain.” (Who knew that there was a coin supply chain?) With more people shopping on-line, using credit for delivery or curb-side pick-up, less and less people have been paying with cash and the supply of coins from consumers to banks has been disrupted. Additionally, those coin collection kiosks in supermarkets evidently were not being utilized by the public during quarantine. Moreover, many facilities where coins were frequently used, such as laundromats, amusement parks, bars and bowling alleys were all shut down removing places where consumers would typically use coins. Finally, from January to April, production of coins fell by a little more than 1/3 at the U.S. Mint, as a result of a reduction in employees per shift due to the need to maintain social distancing on the production floor.
Apparently, the absence of sufficient coins in the marketplace has caused the Federal Reserve to establish a “U.S. Coin Task Force.” This task force is encouraging the use of social media to promote the circulation of coin using the hashtag #getcoinmoving.
Some may recall that back in 1999 there was a “penny drought,” where people were encouraged to look in their jars, cars and drawers for pennies that may have simply been discarded or forgotten, with the hope that people would get these coins back into circulation.
So today, the call is now out to the public to get coins moving again; to empty those piggy banks so that the supply chain can get up and running. Some banks are even offering gifts or incentives for customers who bring in coins.
In the meantime, in addition to encouraging customers to use exact change or to pay with plastic, stores are now rounding-off prices or asking if customers want to donate the difference to charities. Unfortunately, such work-arounds tend to hurt people on the lower end of the income spectrum, especially during these challenging times, when every penny counts.
So, we all need to do our part. Look for those loose coins around the home and cash them in.
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