Coronavirus-caused coin shortage impacting Mid-South businesses

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Yet another nationwide shortage has made its way to the Mid-South.

Coins may be hard to come by these days, and that’s impacting banks and businesses.

With more businesses like Kroger not offering coins for change and asking for exact payment instead for the time being, it’s another indication of how the coronavirus is changing our lives.

“This is an issue that’s totally related to the coronavirus,” University of Memphis economist John Gnuschke said. “People are not wanting to handle coins, so they’re not carrying them in their pockets and their purses.”

The problem is made worse by businesses closing.

“A lot of the companies have slowed down now from a business standpoint,” First Horizon Bank spokesperson Shayne Jernigan said. “Some have closed temporarily, and the circulation of coins is just not what it was.”

This also impacts banks waiting for the Federal Reserve to catch up.

“We don’t have the ability that we’ve had in the past to give the coin allotment that we would like to all of our businesses,” Jernigan said.

While banks do what they can, customers may notice changes like the signs at Kroger registers asking for exact change or another form of payment, even though it’s not the most convenient thing for cash-paying shoppers.

“It’s more convenient to them,” shopper Ericka Williams said. “It can already be challenging with everything that’s going on, but having to take those extra steps and extra precautions to maybe go to the bank, it can definitely be an inconvenience for some people.”

But many shoppers saw this as another adjustment in these unprecedented times.

“It’s one of those things where we just kind of have to make the best of it,” Williams said. “There’s not much we can do at this point. We just have to adjust and adapt to how things are changing.”

Southland Casino is also offering a free play incentive to customers who bring their own coins.

Banks are hoping the federal reserve will start to increase its allotment to them next week.

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