COVID-19 pandemic causing nationwide coin shortage


FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Have you seen signs at stores that ask for exact change or have a limit on cash?

That’s because the Federal Reserve is capping coin orders. Shutdowns caused by COVID-19 significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin.

“Our ability to purchase coins from the Fed has been significantly impacted,” said Mike Wallace, president of retail at Star Bank in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Wallace couldn’t give us an exact percentage of the decline of purchasing coins for Star Bank, so WANE 15 reached out to the source — the Federal Reserve.  

A spokesperson for the Federal Reserve said as of April 2020, the total value of coins in circulation was $47.8 billion, an increase from $47.4 billion reported for April 2019. While there’s an ample amount of coin, the slowed pace of circulation is causing a sufficient quantity of coin not available where it’s needed.  

“The way that banks are able to supply themselves with coins is just the normal flow of business transactions and customer transactions,” Wallace said. “We know with individuals staying home and not going out as much, just the volume of face-to-face transactions have been cut drastically.” 

The Federal Reserve stated that other factors took part in the shortage. The issuing authority for U.S. coin, the U.S. Mint, reduced coin production to keep employees safe. 

Also, the reopening of businesses caused an increase in demand, which resulted in an uptick in Federal Reserve coin orders.  

“It’s really going to impact our business customers that rely on change orders on a daily basis to obviously provide change to their customers,” Wallace said.

Meijer has stopped taking cash at its self-scan lanes due to the coin shortage. A Meijer spokesman sent WANE 15 this statement:

As a result of the national coin shortage caused by the pandemic, Meijer is temporarily converting the self-scan checkout lanes at most of our supercenters to credit/debit use only (they’ll also still accept Meijer gift cards and SNAP/EBT cards).  Our staffed checkout lanes will continue to accept cash payments. While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores. We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience.

Joe Hirschmugl
External Communications Manager

Not all banks in Fort Wayne are feeling much of an impact. 3 Rivers Federal Credit Union said that its customers have not seen a change.

“Honestly I don’t think our membership has had a huge impact by that,” said Amy Ballard, regional director. “I am not sure if they are fully aware of what is going on. We do a good job recycling the coin we do bring in.” 

The Federal Reserve stated that this is a low-impact concern and should pass in a couple of weeks.

Wallace said customers can help when depositing checks, round down to the nearest dollar, and deposit any change that would have been received into an account. He added that banks are accepting coin deposits.

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