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Start Digging in Your Sofa for Much-Needed Coins

Businesses across the US are begging people to put spare change into circulation amid shortage
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 4, 2022 11:15 AM CDT
Businesses Badly Need Your Couch Change
Quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies are held a bowl Thursday, in Tigard, Ore.   (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Got a dime you can spare? Retailers, laundromats, and other businesses that rely on coins want you to turn it in, along with any other spare change in piggy banks or under couch cushions, as coins are in short supply again, the AP reports. A group of trade associations that represent individual businesses—including banks, retail outlets, truck stops, and grocery stores—is asking the Treasury Department for more help convincing Americans to get coins back in circulation. The consequences of the circulation slowdown hit people who don't have an ability to pay for items electronically, they say.

"If retailers are not able to offer change for cash purchases, consumers who rely on cash will be vulnerable," the associations said in a letter to the Treasury. For example, people who do their laundry at coin laundromats could have a harder time finding change to wash their clothes. It's not a coin shortage America faces, but a lack of circulation. "We can't print our way out of this problem," said Austen Jensen, a senior vice president for government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Jensen's group, along with the American Bankers Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, and National Grocers Association, is trying to meet consumer demand and wants a new public campaign to increase coin circulation. One was launched in response to a shortage earlier in the pandemic. The coronavirus disrupted consumers' buying habits and shifted purchases largely to plastic cards to such an extent that in July 2020, the Federal Reserve restricted coin orders by financial institutions. Jensen said his group is also encouraging member retailers to find creative ways to deal with the shortage of coins, including rounding up purchases for charity promotions. (More coins stories.)

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