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Coin shortage now affecting Utah liquor stores

SALT LAKE CITY– The loose change jar or secret stash of quarters in the car may look a little sparse soon.  Coronavirus pandemic shortages have struck again, only this time it’s not toilet paper or disposable gloves, it’s cold hard coins. 

Utah businesses across the state have been asking customers to pay with exact change, card, or mobile wallet due to a national coin shortage. Now, the Utah State Liquor stores are following suit. A sign will be posted at every register, requesting people to pay with exact change or other payment methods in an effort to preserve the coins. 

In an e-mail to KSL, Director of Communication and Public Information with the Utah Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, Terry Wood said “We are not demanding exact change, but requesting help with the coin shortage.” He said the lack of change “is a problem at many retail outlets in these COVID times.” 

Where did all the change go? 

In an investigation by KSL-TV reporters Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage discovered the Federal Reserve has been limiting the amount of coins banks can request. 
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently told Congress the supply of change dwindled when the economy hit the brakes due to the pandemic. Americans haven’t been spending as much and when they do, they’re rarely using cash and coin. 
Additionally, coin production decreased because the U.S. Mint was trying to protect its employees from the virus.

“It’s hard to make coin, you know, working from home,” said Howard Headlee with the Utah Bankers Association. He said production is ramping back up, but Headlee’s not predicting when the coin shortage will end.

Trudy Theobald, branch manager of the Bank of Utah in Ogden said they have to be stingy on who gets spare change. 

“We can only give out a certain amount of coins to make sure that we have enough for all our customers that we have to help,” said  Theobald. 

Use your spare change for good 

There is a way to can help alleviate the coin shortage. Take your piggy bank full of coins to the bank. Cash in on your coin investment. Bankers will thank you and so will your bank account. 

Additionally, those who don’t have access to a bank account and rely on cash to pay for their necessities, need the change. Every coin counts, especially for those who rely on quarters for laundry.