Coin shortage brings change to local retail

Retailers are trying to compensate for a lack of coins due to the ongoing pandemic.
Retailers are trying to compensate for a lack of coins due to the ongoing pandemic.

If he were alive today, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin might have to change one of his most familiar sayings “A penny saved is a penny earned” to “A penny saved is a penny still available” thanks to the cornonavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The United States Mint was recently forced to slow the production of coins due to health concerns for employees, thus creating a strain on the availability of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Signs of the shortage have popped up in local stores.

The Lowe’s in Erwin had a note inside telling patrons two cash registers were accepting credit or debit cards and checks, with no cash back.

The situation was emphasized even greater at a Circle K store in Cumberland County where a sign on the door actively sought coins from customers. The sign explained the store was having difficulty getting coins and asked customers to bring in any additional coins they may have at home.

“The Federal Reserve has closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is not producing coins for the time being,” the sign said. “So there is a coin shortage and banks are limiting our ability to purchase coins.”

Last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee the supply chain had been disrupted.

“The places where you go to give your coins, and get credit at the store and get cash — you know, folding money — those have not been working,” Powell told the committee. “So the whole system has kind of, had come to a stop.”

Rick Curl can be reached at or 910-230-2037.


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