Local merchants: Coin scarcity is a change that has spared us

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star Sandy Morin, manager of Daddy Al's General Store, counts change out of the register Friday.

As a coin shortage sweeps across the nation, local retailers have remained largely untouched.

“Currently, banks have a limit on how much change businesses are allowed to take each day and therefore there is less change physically available in the stores,” said Lindsay Meehan, public relations and creative marketing manager for Mirabito Holdings Inc., based in Binghamton.

The Associated Press reported that quarters, dimes and nickels aren’t circulating as freely as they usually do because many businesses have been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and consumers aren’t out spending as much. The U.S. Mint urged Americans to use coins or turn them in to banks.

As of April 2020, the U.S. Treasury estimated that the total value of coin in circulation is $47.8 billion, up from $47.4 billion as of April 2019.

“While there is adequate coin in the economy, the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coin are not readily available where needed,” the Federal Reserve said in a June 30 statement. “With establishments like retail shops, bank branches, transit authorities and laundromats closed, the typical places where coin enters our society have slowed or even stopped the normal circulation of coin.”

The supply system for coins is expected to normalize as the economy recovers and businesses reopen, according to the Federal Reserve.

Erica Komoroske, public relations specialist for Saratoga Springs-based Stewart’s Shops, said coin availability depends on the store’s locality.

“We have seen a minimal impact on our shops and are able to move change to shops in need from shops with an excess of coins,” she said. “For those shops that are impacted, those customers typically use their credit card or provide exact change.”

Neither Mirabito nor Stewart’s have observed a significant increase in card transactions since the coin shortage was announced.

“We have many customers that pay with cash, we are gladly accepting cash and prefer cash transactions to avoid processing fees,” Meehan said.

“Businesses pay a processing fee on each card transaction so that would go up proportionally,” Komoroske said.

Mirabito stores do not presently offer a donation option if customers want to round up their change, she continued, but “we are evaluating that for the near future.”

Debra North, owner of Razzle Dazzle in Oneonta, said she wasn’t even aware there was a coin shortage.

Allen Dick, owner of Daddy Al’s General Store in Oneonta, said the coin shortage has caused “not one problem” for his business.

“I don’t know about this coin shortage. It’s not bothering us at all,” he said Friday. “I go to the bank, I get whatever change I want — they’ve all got it. I just went today and I got $70 in coins and I got all I wanted.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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