How does the coin shortage affect you locally?

Lack of coins is more of a 'circulation issue' than a shortage, banking expert says

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Money altogether is tight right now. But are coins a particular problem to get a hold of here in Baton Rouge?

You may have noticed some stores ask you for exact change at checkout. That could be because of a national coin shortage.

Karen Boss is the district manager for Southeast Louisiana at Red River Bank and she says this is more of a circulation issue than a shortage.

“If the money is not getting from the business to a bank, from a bank to the Feds, then the Feds can’t turn it around, wrap it and redistribute it,” said Boss.

Essentially, she credits this circulation problem to two things.

One, closed businesses or those with reduced hours aren’t taking in as much coin as they usually do.

And, two, some banks are not allowing the use of coin counters to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. Boss says that’s the case at her local bank right now.

So, the coin is out there, it’s just not moving around as much right now, but how may this affect you locally?

“They might see places or checkout lines that say ‘debit or credit card only,’” said Boss. “It’s not because the cashier has anything wrong with her station. It’s just to promote the use of cards instead. But again, I do see this as temporary.”

All in all, Boss sees this as a short-term thing because coins may begin to move around more once the economy reaches phase three of reopening.

If you do experience any inconvenience while shopping due to coin circulation issues, Boss says it may be at a big box store.

“Big box stores, I think those are the only ones to experience problems. The other mom and pop businesses weren’t buying a lot of coin. They were buying enough coin to fit in their two fists.”

When WAFB called some stores in the area, like Winn Dixie, Albertsons and Walmart, they said they are still able to return change to customers at this time.

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