ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS and a coalition of retail groups are urging the federal government to launch a public campaign to encourage consumers to use coins for purchases, redeem them for bills or deposit them at their banks to help get more coins circulating in the U.S. economy to ease an ongoing coin shortage related to the pandemic.
The groups sent a letter yesterday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell highlighting the problems retailers are having securing enough coins to make change for cash-paying customers. The latest request follows a June 23 letter NACS spearheaded to Mnuchin and Powell asking them to address the coin shortage.
“The current disruptions in coin circulation are creating significant operational hurdles for retailers, particularly those who serve customers who rely on cash to purchase goods and services,” the most recent letter states. “Quick action and community engagement are desperately needed in order to ensure that retailers can continue to accept cash and service those customers who rely on it as their only form of payment for necessities, such as food and personal care products. “
While the U.S. Mint is ramping up production of coins, “we cannot mint our way out of this problem,” the NACS letter states, noting that the Mint supplies less than 20% of the coins retailers need, with the remaining supply coming from recirculated coins. Last week, the U.S. Mint produced a public service announcement to urge Americans to use their coins.
“This is not a coin supply problem. It’s a circulation problem. And I’m here to ask for your help. You can help gets coins moving by using exact change when making purchases, taking your coins to financial institutions, or turning them in for cash at coin recycling kiosks,” stated Dave Rider, Director of the U.S. Mint.
The Federal Reserve Coin Task Force is promoting #getcoinmoving through social media and traditional channels to both educate and motivate consumers to redeem their coins. Individual retailers have created customer awareness and incentive campaigns to get customers to bring in their coins. But more attention is needed at the federal level, NACS said.
“There is no substitute for the voices you can bring to this problem. With your vocal leadership this message can reach and engage a critical mass of American households,” the groups said.
“We can solve this problem, but it will take every American joining in the effort to empty their coin jars and get coins back into circulation. The retail community is seeking your leadership to help drive this message.”
The U.S. Federal Reserve warned about a coin shortage in June when Fed Chairman Powell said that coronavirus-related shutdowns have raised concerns about the circulation of coins, which the Fed's 12 regional banks supply to commercial banks.
On June 11, the Federal Reserve issued a rationing order, cutting down the amount of coins provided to the banks. The shortage is in part due to the U.S. mints closing temporarily because of coronavirus restrictions.
In addition to NACS, signatories to yesterday’s letter include:
FMI, The Food Industry Association
Merchant Advisory Group
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA)
National Association of Truckstop Operators
National Grocers Association
National Retail Federation
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.