John Luciew of PennLive.com says those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters you may be collecting in spare change jars around the house are more precious due to a national coin shortage brought on by the coronavirus and resulting shutdown.
There is a growing list, including some big supermarket chains, who are demanding exact change, or limiting cash transactions, according to Luciew.
One Lowe’s store, not in Arkansas, had a sign on the door that said: Attention Customers — “The U.S. is currently experiencing a coin shortage. Please use exact change or other form of tender if possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Brent McDonald, teller operator assistant at First Community Bank, explains how the coin shortage happened.
“Usually what we do with the Federal Reserve, we send any excess coin that we have, that we run through our coin machines, we send it back to the Fed. And they, in turn, they’ll take it back in and they will re-distribute it, as any other banks or anyone else that uses them, needs it. So with our lobbies being closed and us not taking coin in during that three, 3-and-a-half month span, it greatly reduced the supply that the Federal Reserve had. And at the same time, the US Mint also decreased their production due to trying to take care of their staff during this pandemic time and giving them the time away to be needed as well. So, those two things in hand did create a shortage.”
Chelsey Dockins at the Citizen Bank headquarters in Batesville said the coin shortage is being felt locally as well.
“It definitely caught us by surprise,” said Dockins. “Through the time we were closed to the public inside, we were still able to order change. It’s been about the last two or three weeks where we have not been able to order our regular amounts, so we’ve actually had to hand roll the coin and everything like that.”
Citizens is asking that all customers with loose change to bring it in so that “…we can combat the shortage together.” Dockins said for customers who use coins to make change, “…we are currently limiting them to five rolls per denomination of coin.”
McDonald with First Community Bank said today was the last day the bank would pay a premium to customers who bring in their coins. First Community was paying $5 for every $50.00 in coins a customer brought to the main office at St. Louis & Harrison Streets.
McDonald did say that the bank may re-start that premium or offer another one to customers in the very near future.
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