Coin shortage having minimal impact on local business

Stacy Wescoe//July 17, 2020

Coin shortage having minimal impact on local business

Stacy Wescoe//July 17, 2020

There is a national coin shortage, but it’s not at emergency levels, at least not in the Lehigh Valley.

Those in the financial industry say the slowed economy, hoarding and a COVID-19 pandemic related reduction in production at the U.S. Mint have all led to the shortage in coins.

The shortage is being felt particularly by smaller retail locations, like gas stations and mini markets, which often deal in exact change.

Nick Ruffner, public relations manager for Altoona-based Sheetz, which has a strong presences of mini markets in the region, said at this point no one is panicking.

“Fewer coins are being circulated, but it’s not impacting us at an emergency level,” he said.

Ruffner said some people have been concerned because retailers, like Sheetz, have posted signs in stores asking customers to use exact change or their credit or debit card to make purchases.

He said retailers are just being cautious to make sure the shortage doesn’t become more serious.

At Neff’s Bank, President and CEO Kevin Schmidt said his staff has had no problem meeting the demand so far.

“We have been able to fulfill our normal orders and that of our customers. We have heard reports that non-customers have had some difficulties getting their request filled by their bank,” Schmidt said.

He calls the overall impact on banking in the Lehigh Valley, “minimal.”

Schmidt did say the bank is taking coin deposits from customers, something many retail and banking experts have been encouraging to get coins back in circulation.

Ruffner said Sheetz is going a step further in trying to ease the coin crunch, and has posted signage at all of its locations letting customers know how they can help.

He said the number one effort to recoup coins is asking customers to round up their purchase and donate the remaining change to the Sheetz for Kids campaign that the stores hold twice a year to raise money to buy holiday presents for young children in need.

They are also accepting coin donations, which will go towards that fund.

The stores are also encouraging customers to use gift cards, the store’s payment app, debit and credit cards and exact change for their purchases.

He said many of those methods are also good practice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Eliminating cash helps prevent the transmission of the virus and promotes social distancing with staff,” he said.