The coronavirus pandemic is impacting society in ways that most people never anticipated.
Over the past week or so, local residents have seen signs being posted at stores saying that cash purchases are limited to exact change only because of a national coin shortage.
“It isn’t necessarily that there’s not coin, it’s just that the feds don’t have it ready for us,” explained a representative at Northwest Bank in Bradford.
According to the Federal Reserve, the COVID-19 pandemic “has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin. In the past few months, coin deposits from depository institutions to the Federal Reserve have declined significantly and the U.S. Mint’s production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees.”
As the nation began to reopen and business resumed, coin orders resumed, too. This decreased the inventory at the Federal Reserve.
Limits were imposed on coin orders in mid-June. The effects are being felt now in this region.
“We can’t hand out rolled change anymore,” a representative at PNC Bank said. “We can cash a check, and give you change, but for our business customers, we’re not handing out the rolled coins.”
At Hamlin Bank, a representative said they haven’t seen much of an impact, and still can give out rolled coin to people who do business with the bank.
One local business that depends on coins said they are doing O.K. for now.
“People have a tough time when they come in on my off hours,” said a representative of Bradford Laundry & Dry Cleaning on Monday. She’s been able to keep the change machines at the laundromat on Boylston Street filled for customers, and has been able to provide change during their counter hours. “We’ve been pretty lucky.”
What about parking meters? City administrator Chris Lucco said he hadn’t heard of any issues.
“There are several available options out there if it becomes a problem,” he added.
While the federal reserve hasn’t given a time frame for when the shortage is expected to pass, the agency is taking measures to mitigate the effects.
According to its website, the Reserve is doing the following: Managing the allocation of existing Fed inventories; working with the U.S. Mint, as issuing authority, to minimize coin supply constraints and maximize coin production capacity; and encouraging depository institutions to order only the coin they need to meet near—term customer demand.
“Depository institutions also can help replenish inventories by removing barriers to consumer deposits of loose and rolled coins. Although the Federal Reserve is confident that the coin inventory issues will resolve once the economy opens more broadly and the coin supply chain returns to normal circulation patterns, we recognize that these measures alone will not be enough to resolve near—term issues.”