DARKE COUNTY — Short on pocket change? You’re not the only one.
A national coin shortage has caused many businesses to request that patrons pay in credit or with exact change. This includes some of the larger businesses in Darke County, such as Kroger and Walmart, which are already dealing with this issue.
The Federal Reserve contends that store closures and lockdown measures due to COVID-19 have resulted in decreased circulation of coins. The Fed has struggled not only with circulation, but also with the production of new coins. Banks rely heavily on the Fed’s ability to keep coins in circulation, and to regulate and keep tabs on the coin supply in different areas of the country.
As explained by Paul Gilkes, senior editor on U.S. Coins at Coin World magazine, the Federal Reserve is solely responsible for taking in and circulating coins produced by the U.S. Mint. This process involves the Fed outsourcing this duty to companies that provide armored trucks to transport coins all over the U.S.
“If one area runs low on coins, then coins are transported by armored truck from another area to balance out the placement, which keeps a steady circulation of coins,” Gilkes said.
As for now, small businesses in Darke County appear to be, for the most part, unaffected. The Daily Advocate asked a number of smaller, local merchants if they have been impacted by coin shortages. Most confirmed, for now, it has not been a problem. However, it is difficult to say what decisions will be made if their coin supply begins to run low.
Banks in Darke County have been working to stay on top of this issue and are closely monitoring their coin supply in relation to business needs. Businesses and consumers, nonetheless, should be aware of potential shortages.
“Here in Greenville, and all throughout Darke County, we are fortunate to have a number of smaller banks that had a considerable amount of coins already on location,” said Mike Bowers, director of Darke County Economic Development, in an interview with The Daily Advocate.
Bowers also speculated that the relationship shared between small banks and local businesses might also have an impact on how efficiently the banks have been able to supply coins.
Marketing and Development Officer Lisa Martin at GNB Banking Centers explained, “GNB has not had any issues, and has done a good job managing their coins, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be issues in the future.”
When asked about how the banks would handle a shortage of coins, Martin said that, like many other banks throughout the U.S., they would have to recycle coins they already have rather than fully relying on coins circulated through the Federal Reserve.
Ultimately, the Fed is trusting that the coin shortage will be alleviated by an economic recovery, saying it is “confident that the coin inventory issues will resolve once the economy opens more broadly and the coin supply chain returns to normal circulation patterns.”