SPOKANE, Wash. — Most people either love or hate pocket change. But, regardless of your opinion on coins, there's a nationwide shortage of them right now that's impacting the Inland Northwest.
The Federal Reserve said in a news release on June 11 that the “COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin.”
One week later, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said that due to "the partial closure of the economy" we are seeing that "the flow of coins through the economy" has nearly stopped. Powell's exact words during the hearing were that the flow of coins has actually, "kind of stopped."
With fewer in person transactions at businesses and banks, fewer coins are reaching the public.
The situation is temporary and the Federal Reserve is starting to see some progress now that economy has started to partially reopen, Powell added.
RELATED: There is a nationwide coin shortage
A post on Spokane Reddit last week that posed the question about a coin shortage garnered more than a dozen comments.
"I keep seeing stuff on Facebook about a coin shortage but haven't noticed any stores here that show that. Are there any in Spokane that say they have a shortage? Or are only taking exact change or something?" the post reads.
KREM can confirm that the shortage is impacting stores in the Spokane area. A spokesperson for Fred Meyer wrote in a statement to KREM that it is impacting their ability to provide change to customers.
"As a result, we will be temporarily implementing a new process for providing change to customers paying with cash through our staffed checkout lanes," the statement reads in part. "At Fred Meyer, we are excited to offer our customers the choice to Round-Up their transaction to help support hunger solutions. Every cent collected gets donated to nonprofits as part of our Zero Hunger / Zero Waste social impact plan."
Starting Tuesday, July 14, Fred Meyer customers will also be able to load change onto their loyalty card for use toward a future purchase.
The coin shortage is also hitting Walmart stores across the country, a spokesperson told KREM's sister station KXTV in Sacramento, California.
Walmart is asking people to consider paying with credit or debit cards when possible, according to the statement.
"Like most retailers, we’re experiencing the affects of the nation-wide coin shortage," said Avani Dudhia, spokesperson for Walmart. "We’re asking customers to pay with card or use correct change when possible if they need to pay with cash."
Dudhia said cash is still welcome at all of the Walmart stores, but some self-checkout registers have been converted to card-only registers. One KREM viewer reported this situation at a Walmart in the Spokane area.
Dudhia added that some stores have been moving registers to card-only on an as-needed basis.
Walmart does not know how long the policy will be in place due to the coin shortage being a nationwide issue.
KREM employees have also reported messages about the coin shortages from other businesses.
Lowe's on North Division Street in Spokane had a sign last week asking people not to pay in cash, one person reported. Rosauer's on E. 29th Avenue has also posted signage related to the coin shortage.