Wawa and Giant Ask Customers for Exact Change

The pandemic continues to impact the supply of coins in circulation.

July 14, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The coronavirus pandemic has led to a nationwide coin shortage, and some U.S. businesses are asking cash-paying customers to pay with exact change, according to TheHill.com.

Wawa, the popular East Coast convenience chain, has told customers to either pay with credit or debit cards, the mobile app or with exact change amid the recent currency shortages. Wawa is reportedly giving customers the opportunity to round their total to the nearest dollar by donating to their charity foundation. Giant, the Pennsylvania-based grocery chain, also is asking for correct change.

Last month NACS Daily reported that Tulsa-based Quik Trip is asking shoppers to use change to pay for merchandise whenever possible. Pilot Company is asking customers to round-up their purchases to the nearest whole dollar to donate their change to support military veterans through the Call of Duty Endowment.

The U.S. Federal Reserve warned about a coin shortage in June when Fed Chairman Jerome 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.

“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of funds through the economy has stopped,” Powell said. “We are working with the Mint and the Reserve Banks and as the economy reopens, we are starting to see money move around again.”

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.”