GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Temporarily, customers will be unable to pay with cash at the self-checkout lanes at Meijer supermarkets because of the national coin shortage caused by the pandemic, MLive.com reports. The chain’s staffed checkout lines will still accept cash payments.
“While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores,” said Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi. “We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience.”
Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, fewer coins are circulating than normal, and businesses are pleading with banks to find more. QuikTrip recently asked its customers to bring in their pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in an effort to overcome the supply shortage.
In Elmira Heights, N.Y., a local 7-Eleven posted a sign asking customers to please pay with exact change, debit, credit card or contactless payment due to the coin shortage, WETM reports. Karen Gordon, the store franchisee, told the news outlet that her staff calls banks every day to try to find coins, with little luck.
NACS spearheaded efforts to push the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department to address the situation. Along with the Food Marketing Institute, International Franchise Association, National Automatic Merchandising Association, National Grocers Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, NACS wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. The June 23 letter reminded them that “cash represents more than one-third of all funds transacted in-person by U.S. consumers and that number rises to nearly half of all funds for transactions of less than $10. These transactions are at risk and there are not good alternatives.”
This week, members of the House of Representatives also sent a letter to Powell and Mnuchin, asking the Federal Reserve and U.S. Mint “to work together to ensure that enough coins are produced and properly distributed throughout the nation to meet Americans’ needs. … Local businesses are struggling to stay afloat even without proper coin supplies. Please provide us with a plan to address this situation—through increased distribution of coins from the Federal Reserve, increased coin production by the Mint or otherwise—before this becomes a drag on the economy and disrupts transactions.”
The letter was led by Rep. John Rose (R-Tenn.) and signed by Reps. French Hill (R-Ark.), Van Taylor (R-Texas), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), John Carter (R-Texas), Daniel Meuser (R-Pa.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), William Timmons (R-S.C.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.).
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.