Coin shortage impacting Spokane businesses

SPOKANE, Wash. – Coins are a little bit harder to come by now. Spokane businesses are not getting their full coin orders filled.

Because of the pandemic, there is now a nationwide shortage of change.

Ace Hardware in Hillyard has been feeling the effects of the shortage for weeks now. Owner Curtiss Moseley says he’s even asked customers to bring in change.

“They’d bring in $100 worth of change and we would exchange it for paper bills. We did that and we had employees that were doing the same thing,” Moseley said.

Their bank had only been filling about 20 percent of what they would request. Moseley said they never ran out of change, but it was tough.  For his store, he needs that change. Not everyone can pay with a card. Moseley said they have more cash transactions than an average store.

“I don’t know if it’s just the demographic of our area that we just deal with a lot of cash, a lot of cash transactions,” he added.

4 News Now called around to quite a few businesses in Spokane. Some said they weren’t affected, others were. Moseley said Ace Hardware stores in the area are owned by different people, so they would choose different banks.

Numerica Credit Union says it’s getting 75 percent fewer coins now than it did before the pandemic.

“The Federal Reserve has actually limited us to how much we can order weekly,” said Kelley Ferguson, the chief administration officer with Numerica Credit Union.

In a release, The Federal Reserve said the pandemic affected the supply chain and circulation of coins. Fewer people were also out spending money when states shut down. The U.S. Mint also slowed down production to keep employees safe.

These changes created a ripple effect, now coming back to people paying at the register.

“Its been hard to predict where COVID has taken businesses, the economy. Different practices, which you never really would’ve thought twice about,” Ferguson said. “But, it’s allowing you to show the culture that you have internally and the ability to think quickly and innovatively.”

He said that members of Numerica haven’t been affected by the coin shortage because the credit union switched around some internal practices. They have coin counters where people can come in and put change in and get cash for a fee or put it into their account. Those coins used to be sent out at the end of the day to be processed, but is now staying with them and recirculating among its members.

As for Ace Hardware, Moseley said they outsourced to other banks to be able to get the change orders filled.

Fred Meyer is also another store in the area being affected by the shortage. It started asking customers to either round up the change for charity, load it onto their rewards program or pay with card. If a person does have to pay with cash, they will ultimately give them back the change, if needed.