“How the COVID-19 Coin Shortage is Affecting Retailers” by Ashley Chiaradio via Total Retail

“How the COVID-19 Coin Shortage is Affecting Retailers” by Ashley Chiaradio via Total Retail

Photo Credit: Getty Images by Chuck Cross / EyeEm

Some brick-and-mortar retailers are obligating customers to allow cashiers to keep their change as the U.S. experiences a coin shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PYMNTS reported.

Recently, grocery chain Kroger has been temporarily refusing to give coins out as change to customers. In these instances, customers have three options: round up their bills to the nearest dollar; donate the excess to charity; or get their change stored on a loyalty card. According to, Kroger announced via Twitter that the Federal Reserve is experiencing a significant coin shortage and it’s impacting store operations.

COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins. Over the past few months, coin deposits have declined significantly and the production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect U.S. Mint employees.

In addition to Kroger, Giant Food and Wawa have also made changes to deal with the coin shortage. Giant Food is reportedly doing the same as Kroger, and Wawa is reportedly requesting that customers pay with exact change, debt or credit cards, or the Wawa mobile app if possible.

Total Retail’s Take: While consumers who prefer to pay with cash may disapprove of this situation, it does provide retailers the unique opportunity to promote their loyalty programs. Consumers who don’t already have loyalty cards may sign up just to prevent losing their change. The retailer will gain the customer’s personal information, which is beneficial for personalizing future customer experiences, but also the customer may revisit the retailer in the future to spend their unused change. Paying with cash was already on the decline in the U.S., but the pandemic has accelerated that trend, as consumers increasingly seek contactless payment options. If the U.S. coin shortage continues, more brick-and-mortar stores may force customers to put their change on loyalty cards and into loyalty programs, which is a huge advantage for retailers.

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