SOUTHERN INDIANA — Some U.S. retailers recently curbed giving out coins for change amid a disruption issue caused by COVID-19, but local industries that traditionally rely on coins aren't feeling the effect yet.
Some national or regional stores such as Kroger, are giving customers different options in lieu of change. A spokesperson for Kroger said the company began about a week and a half ago offering either to put change refunds on a shopper's Kroger Plus card for their next visit, or allowing them to round up, donating the change to Zero Hunger/Zero Waste, which services local food banks.
But some places that have long dealt with coins as part of their business model — such as coin-operated laundries — say they're doing fine and don't expect much of an effect because they keep circulating the same coins.
On June 11, the Federal Reserve announced a strategic plan to allocate coins to depository institutions to help ensure equal distribution. This followed other ongoing measures such as working to increase coin-production capacity and encouraging banks to loosen restrictions on unrolled coins being brought in for cash.
"The COVID‐19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins," the Federal Reserve said in a news release. "In the past few months, coin deposits from depository institutions to the Federal Reserve have declined significantly and the U.S. Mint’s production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees."
Lisa Logsdon, manager at Plaza Laundry in Clarksville, said it's not an issue for the business because their coins stay in circulation pretty much in-house.
"What we do, we take the coins out of the machines and put them in the changers and just kind of recycle them all day long," she said. "I don't think it was really a concern for us at all."
Jona Cox, owner at Becca's Wash House in Jeffersonville, had a similar story.
"We only have to worry about quarters and we just recycle our quarters," she said. "People give us cash and we give them quarters, they put the quarters in the machine, and give them to somebody else. We don't have any other sort of change we have to give out."
Some businesses had already gone away from coins before this issue arose, like the Laundry Basket in Jeffersonville, which has been offering pre-paid laundry cards for customers to use for several years. Customers insert a payment into a kiosk on the wall and can choose between different denominations of cards to be used in the machines.
A man doing laundry there Wednesday had used that card for his washing.
"I usually have a little change in my truck," he said, in case he needed to have exact change for something. "If not, I'll pay with my credit card. It hasn't affected me to the point where I feel like I'm being hurt or anything."
Gayle Judd, owner of Jeff vending, a company that supplies snack and drink vending machines to locations across Southern Indiana and the Louisville area, said his company hasn't changed anything or been affected by the circulation disruption yet.
"We haven't seen any shortage yet," she said. "I know I've heard about it."
Judd said the machines they provide all accept coins and cash; some also have card readers. But for now, she hasn't had customers requesting more with card-capability.