Can you spare any change?
That’s the question being asked by the U.S Mint.
COVID-19 has resulted in fewer pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in circulation. As a result, the agency of the U.S. Treasury responsible for producing coins is asking the public for help.
Typically, coins get circulated daily. But as retailers shuttered to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, coins in circulation disappeared and orders for newly-minted coins increased.
The Mint is on track to produce 1.65 billion coins per month for the rest of the year. By comparison, in 2019, the government produced an average of 1 billion coins per month.
That’s where shoppers come in.
“We are asking for your help in improving this coin supply issue,” the Mint said in a statement on Thursday (July 23). “You can do so by paying for things with exact change and returning spare change to circulation.”
Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, the Mint said it may be more difficult for retailers and small businesses to accept cash payments.
Created by Congress in 1792, the U.S. Mint became part of the Department of the Treasury in 1873. As the nation’s only manufacturer of money, the Mint is responsible for producing coins and bills for the country to conduct trade and commerce.
PYMNTS recently reported some stores won’t provide change in coins.
Kroger Co., the Ohio-based supermarket chain with 2,920 stores, is temporarily refusing to give coins out as change. Customers can either round up their bills to the nearest dollar and give the excess to charity or get their change stored on loyalty cards.
“The Federal Reserve is experiencing a significant coin shortage that is impacting our store operations and ability to provide change,” Kroger wrote on Twitter. “As a result, the company is implementing a new process for providing change to customers. In all staffed lanes, coin change owed to the customer can be applied to your loyalty card and can be used on your next in-store, Pick-Up or Delivery purchase. Alternately, we can round your transaction up to the nearest dollar and donate it to your local food bank.”
Last month, the Federal Reserve Board said the pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and circulation patterns for U.S. coins.
“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,” the Fed said in a statement.