One of the side effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been a coin shortage across the United States. As a result, Kroger is temporarily suspending giving customers coins for change.
Felix Turner, Kroger’s corporate affairs manager for South Carolina, said the store is allowing customers to round up their order total to the nearest dollar and donate to the Zero Hunger, Zero Waste foundation, which supports hunger relief efforts across the community.
For customers who choose not to donate, cashiers put the change value onto the customer’s loyalty card which can be used as credit for the next purchase.
Haley Ross of Aiken regularly uses coins and pays in exact change.
“I think it’s important to use them,” Ross said.
Turner said the Treasury Department expects the shortage to diminish as more regions of the country reopen.
“We know this is an inconvenience for our customers, and we appreciate their patience,” Turner said in an email.
Malcolm Riley of Aiken doesn’t see a problem with Kroger not giving change as long as customers are given options.
“You can’t make available what isn’t available,” Riley said.
The Federal Reserve announced June 11 that it would be allocating the amount of coins it sent out to try to lessen the effects of the shortage.
On June 30, the Fed announced the formation of the U.S. Coin Task Force. The task force will be made up of industry leaders who will “work together to identify, implement, and promote actions to reduce the consequence and duration of COVID-19 related disruptions to normal coin circulation,” according to a news release.
The task force plans to complete its first set of recommendations by the end of July.
Dr. Ozgur Ince, a clinical assistant professor of finance at the University of South Carolina, is glad this task force has been assembled.
“It is comforting to see the Fed taking this seriously and taking steps to alleviate it,” Ince said.
However, Ince said there could be another problem in the coming months.
“If people start to hoard coins like they did with cleaning supplies at the start of the pandemic, it could be an issue,” Ince said.
Bob Bigger, vice president and commercial relationship manager at the Aiken branch of Coastal Carolina National Bank, said his bank hasn’t had any issues with coins, but he has seen stores he’s visited encourage cashless payments.
Jacob Jordan, a Wells Fargo spokesman for the Southeast, said in an email that, “We are actively managing our coin inventory and working with customers to meet their coin needs to the extent possible after the Federal Reserve put limitations on coin deliveries to all financial institutions nationwide.”