COVID-19 causes national coin shortage, U.S. Mint confirms

    If you’ve visited your local grocery store, Walmart or Target lately, you’ve likely seen signs taped to the cash registers, reading “credit and debit only.” The signs, the U.S. Mint says, are related to the far-reaching effects of COVID-19. 

    In a statement last week, the U.S Mint said it was experiencing disruptions to its supply channels as a result of COVID-19. 

    “The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in the disruption of the supply channels of circulating coinage – the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that the American people and businesses use in their day-to-day transactions,” the statement read.

    Normally, coins are returned to circulation through retail transactions and coin recyclers. But with shutdowns and lower-than-normal retail activity, that circulation has slowed significantly. 

    In 2019, the Mint contributed just 17 percent of newly minted circulating coins into the supply chain. The remainder, the Mint said, came from third-party coin processors and retail activity. 

    “Simply put, there is an adequate amount of coins in the economy, but the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coins are sometimes not readily available where needed,” the Mint said, “You may be experiencing this in your local communities.”

    The Mint acknowledged that small businesses and retailers may not be accepting cash payments right now because of the challenges making change would cause. 

    To combat the shortage, the Mint is asking for people to pay for items with exact change and return spare change to circulation, if possible. 

    “We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin-redemption kiosk,” a statement from the U.S. Mint said. “The coin supply problem can be solved with each of us doing our part.”

    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.