You might have noticed a sign on the doors of several of the businesses that you frequent that requests you either pay for your goods and services with exact change or use a credit or debit card. Why the sudden need to ask people to do that?

It's because there is actually a shortage of coins in the United States and yes, the coronavirus pandemic is to blame. No, it's not that people are afraid to touch money, although it can be kind of gross, it actually has to do with social distancing.

The United States Mint which produces our country's legal tender including coins has been subject to the same work restrictions that many of you have been asked to comply with. That means social distancing and in the United States Mint's case, that means fewer employees at work. That translates into fewer coins being minted.

The impact of the coin shortage has left many retailers in a bit of quandary. However, some of them have created some great solutions. One grocery retailer, Kroger, is allowing customers to add that change to a store loyalty card. Shoppers can then use the card on their next visit.

Other establishments have instituted "round up" programs. This allows customers to round their final price up to the next full dollar amount. The money collected from the rounding up is donated to charities like food banks. Or in the case of Louisiana's Shop Rite Stores they are asking customers to round up for St. Jude.

Federal officials are hopeful the coin shortage issue can be rectified in the next couple of weeks as more and more United States Mint employees are able to return to work. In the meantime, used that fantastic plastic or round up to make a difference.


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