It’s time to break open the piggy bank.
COVID-19 has interrupted coin circulation, causing some Roseburg businesses to ask customers for change if they use cash at the register.
On June 15, the Federal Reserve began limiting coin distribution to banks after closures led to declining coin deposits nationwide. Seeking to protect employees from COVID-19, the U.S. Mint has also made fewer new coins during the pandemic, according to an announcement from the Fed.
The Fed said it expects the coin shortage to be temporary, but for now, some local banks and businesses have altered their usual practices, asking customers to use cards when possible or provide change with cash purchases.
Greg Holt, who works in merchant services at Cascade Community Credit Union in Roseburg, said they have had not been able to properly fulfill coin orders from branches and members.
“It was a surprise for us that it was a shortage,” Holt said. “We did not see any indicators coming up.”
He said they have had to limit requests for coins from non-member businesses and individuals. He’s waiting for the mint to produce at its usual capacity again so he can get coins to businesses in Roseburg.
“That impact of making coins, whatever that time frame is, that’s going to have an impact on our membership and our community,” Holt said.
Some local businesses haven’t been affected by the coin shortage at all.
“There’s been no problem,” said Felicia Mellor, co-owner of Gathering Grounds Coffee House.
“We just go down to the bank at Umpqua. We haven’t been told no so far,” Mellor said.
Joe Bardaville, the owner of Cup of Joe, said he doesn’t deal in coins much anyway.
“I didn’t know about the coin shortage at all,” he said. “I didn’t know it existed.”
Some larger businesses, including Lowe’s and Carl’s Jr., have put up signs asking customers to help by putting the coins in their pockets back into the supply chain.
John Robertson, manager of Sherm’s Thunderbird Market, said the store hasn’t been able to request as many coins as they used to, but it hasn’t hurt them much so far. He is still putting up a sign, hoping to soften the shortage’s future impact, which could limit cash transactions.
“We’re going to ask customers to use coins whenever possible,” Robertson said. “If you have exact change, that would be great.”