LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Retailers like Ralphs and Walmart are no longer giving change to customers due to a “significant coin shortage” across the U.S.

When the pandemic shut down much of the country in the spring, the circulation of coins slowed down dramatically. To make matters worse, the U.S. mint had to cut production of new coins because of staffing changes to keep workers safe, then the Federal Reserve put limits on how much change banks would be given.

The shortage was noted last month by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell in a briefing with the House Financial Services committee.

“What’s happened is that with the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has gotten all – it’s kind of stopped,” Powell said. “Stores have been closed so the whole system of flow had come to a stop. We’re well aware of this. We’re working with the Mint, and we’re working with the reserve banks, and as the economy reopens, we’re seeing coins begin to move around again.”

However, the shortage has apparently become more acute, with more businesses saying they can no longer give change. In a statement, Kroger – the parent company of Ralphs and Food4Less — said their upgraded technology allows customers to switch their payment type, and load coin change onto their loyalty cards for use the next time they shop.

“Like many retailers and businesses, we are adjusting to the temporary shortage in several ways,” the company said.

Walmart, meanwhile, has programmed some of its self-check out stands to process cards only.

Some banks are asking the public to bring in their coins for cash, while the U.S. Mint has ramped up production to 1.5 billion coins a month.

The Federal Reserve expects shortages to ease as the economy opens up more, but it’s not clear when that might be.

Comments (6)
  1. Jeff Greenfield says:

    I have over $100 worth of coins here. I normally go to the bank once a year and they take the money and within 10 days they would’ve counted it and they credit my account. Absolutely no fee to me, the customer. I went there in February (Bank of America) with a lot of coins. The bank told me the policy had changed, that unless I have a business account, they won’t do that anymore. They gave me some coin wrappers and told me to do it myself. Of course I didn’t, I just have too many coins. I’m happy to bring them back to the bank now if they will finally do what I wanted them to do in February, as they have done for many years past, namely to take my coins, count them in their machines, and credit my account.

  2. Keith says:

    they could try setting prices so (after tax) the amount comes out to an even dollar amount so coins aren’t necessary.

  3. Herbert G. Chapman says:

    Years ago I talked to a man walking around in a school parking lot and he told me he was picking up coins that students through away because they are on the dole and don’t want the coins also there are people called travelers who live off of you and I. They beg for money and at fuel stations ask you to fill there tank as they have no money and are traveling. If you give them change they through it away on the ground or put it into the garbage can. So it is no wonder that we have a coin shortage. But also the banks can cause this to happen wanting us to go plastic money. They seem to have all but nickels and pennies .

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