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Businesses in Cenla feeling the effects of coin circulation shortage

The Federal Reserve is limiting shipments of coins to financial institutions
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 4:12 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a shortage in all sorts of things, from toilet paper and hand sanitizer to plexiglass and even bicycles. Now, you can add a nationwide coin shortage to the list.

If you’re someone who still prefers paying in cash then you may have noticed signs at some local businesses asking customers to use exact change or to pay with a card or mobile pay, due to a national coin shortage. “All of this is an unintended consequence of the coronavirus,” says Amanda St. Romain with Y-Not Stop, one of the businesses feeling the effects of the coin shortage. “The purpose of that is to help get those coins back into circulation,” she adds.

Signs at Y-Not Stop locations are asking customers to use exact change, pay with cards, or use mobile pay because of the shortage in coins.
Signs at Y-Not Stop locations are asking customers to use exact change, pay with cards, or use mobile pay because of the shortage in coins.(KALB)

St. Romain says some of their stores have been able to get less than half of their usual amount of coins from the bank, forcing them to decrease the number of coins they give out while also trying to increase their supply in other ways. “We are significantly short of our normal change order to the point that we spent the weekend counting our own change and trying to figure out how to make it work.”

Carrie Roy with Red River Bank says that on June 15th The Federal Reserve began limiting the number of coins that banks can order. That’s something she’s never experienced before. “I’ve been in banking for 35 years and I’ve not seen this in the past of where they’re actually limiting us,” says Roy. On the same day, The Federal Reserve released a statement saying that “the pandemic has disrupted supply chains” and that “the reserve is working to mitigate low coin inventories.”

Roy says the trickledown effects of the pandemic are causing fewer coins to be circulated due to businesses being closed, people choosing to use other payment methods to avoid touching cash, and banks - like Red River - not accepting loose change due to safety reasons. “I truly believe that it’s a circulation problem, not truly a shortage of coins,” says Roy. Red River Bank says they’re working on a reopening date for their coin machines.

Red River Bank says they’ve stockpiled coins to prepare for hurricanes in the past, so right now they’re not limiting their customers. “We’ve had a lot of business as usual, not all of our customer have had business as usual,” adds Roy.

Meanwhile at the Y-Not Stop - where customers tend to purchase small-dollar items like snacks and sodas - they’re feeling shortchanged by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s impacting especially the convenience store industry but other smaller format stores such as dollar stores and fast food restraints are really feeling that strain as well,” adds St. Romain.

As long as there is a coin shortage, the Y-Not Stop is also offering customers the opportunity to round up purchases to the nearest dollar, and they’re donating the extra amount to their Corporate Works of Mercy Foundation that benefits local organizations like the Food Bank of Central Louisiana and the Hope House.

The Federal Reserve hasn’t commented on how long banks may have to continue limiting coin orders.

Copyright 2020 KALB. All rights reserved.

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