MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article – Short on coins

Posted by M. C. on July 8, 2020

Another government screw-up or an intentional step toward a cashless society?

The same government that is controlling your health can’t keep nickels and dimes in the till.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=2ba69efcc

How a coin shortage is impacting Mich. retailers, grocery stores

At Barrel’s and Vines, an upscale Royal Oak, Michigan, gas station, signs are posted urging customers to have the correct change or use debit or credit whenever possible.

Normally, owner Ken Lucia keeps boxes of rolled coins to fill register tills to use as change at both Barrel’s and Vines locations on Woodward.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has coins — quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies — in short supply.

Retailers get their boxes of coins from banks. But, Lucia said, the supplies are low at banks.

“Our bank will only allow us to buy one roll of coin at a time,” he said. “The banks have cut down on giving boxes of change out.”

A box of quarters has 50 rolls or $500 worth, while a box of pennies has 100 rolls or $50 worth, Lucia said.

In mid-June, the Federal Reserve announced a nationwide coin shortage, which it blamed on the pandemic..

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin,” the government said in a statement. “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. Federal Reserve coin orders from depository institutions have begun to increase as regions reopen, resulting in the Federal Reserve’s coin inventory being reduced to below normal levels. “

On June 15, the Federal Reserve Banks and their coin distribution locations began to allocate available supplies of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to depository institutions as a temporary measure.

The temporary coin allocation methodology is based on historical order volume by coin denomination and depository institution endpoint, and current U.S. Mint production levels. Order limits are unique by coin denomination and are the same across all Federal Reserve coin distribution locations. Limits will be reviewed and potentially revised based on national receipt levels, inventories, and Mint production.

Barrels and Vines is a gas station that sells beer, wine and liquor and has a restaurant inside called Saroki’s Pizzeria, that also utilizes the change. Lucia said he began to see the coins run low in mid-April.

But now the coin shortage appears to be worse.

“Some banks have been more lenient than others,” Lucia said.

The shortage makes it tough for retailers.

To conserve coins, Lucia said, he has resorted to rounding sales up or down.

“I try to give out change in onesies and twosies, not in multiples,” he said.

For example, if the sale is $4.79, he will ask customers if they mind losing a penny and round up, giving them 20 cents. Or, he will round down to $4.75 and give them a quarter.

Constance Nobis, director of Retail Market Operations at Comerica Bank, said the bank is limiting what it gives to customers because its supply from the Fed has been cut by 90%.

“It’s a supply chain issue,” Nobis said. “Normally there’s a lot of recycling. Customers bring in coin to the bank, we ship it to the Fed and we fill our order out for customers.”

Nobis said the shortage is temporary.

“As more banks open and they are able to take those coin deposits in and the Fed is going to increase what they are minting,” she said.

In the meantime, she said, the bank is urging customers to bring in coin. It’s also doing centralized ordering, doing half boxes and rationing.

“Primarily gas stations and party store owners are frustrated with lack of coin and we have been able to get them about 50% of what they are asking for,” Nobis said.

That shortage may have an impact on the way you pay at grocery stores and other retailers.

At most of Meijer’s selfscan checkouts, the retailer has temporarily switched to credit, debit and SNAP/EBT card use only. Self-scan will also accept Meijer gift cards.

But customers using cash must use a cashier staffed checkout.

“While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores,” a Meijer spokeswoman said.

Be seeing you

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