Grocery stores not giving customers change back amid COVID-19 related coin shortage

KABC logo
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
COVID-19 pandemic leads to coin shortage across the country
As businesses close, the influx of coins going into banks is slowing down, leaving some locations without any spare change.

Kroger is making some key changes at checkout as the U.S. experiences a coin shortage connected to the coronavirus pandemic.

The grocer announced this week that they will not be returning coin change to customers who pay with cash during the shortage, and are instead offering other solutions.

Kroger released the following statement regarding the new plan:

"Currently our stores are collecting donations for the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation by allowing customers to round up their order total to the next dollar. Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation supports hunger relief efforts across the communities we serve. For customers that choose not to donate, our cashiers will load the coin value due back through their loyalty card. Customers can redeem the amount on their next transaction We know this is an inconvenience for our customers and we appreciate their patience. The Treasury Department expects the shortage to diminish as more regions of the country reopen."

Customers checking out through a manned lane will have the ability to:

  • Pay with a form of payment other than cash
  • Have their coin change loaded as credit toward their next purchase directly to their loyalty card

Texas grocer H-E-B is also making efforts to limit coin usage. Although they aren't getting rid of coins altogether, they are encouraging customers to go cashless and are implementing a "Change for Charity" campaign where customers can donate their coins at the register.

H-E-B released the following statement regarding the changes:

"H-E-B is testing several strategies to buy and conserve coins so we can serve all of our customers in the way they want to shop and pay for their purchases. The public can help improve coin circulation by taking coins to their local banks or Coinstar kiosks and when paying with cash, using exact change. We have also launched a Change for Charity campaign where customers can donate their coins at the register to benefit Texas Food Banks and other local non-profits responding to the coronavirus pandemic."

Walmart is not immune to the shortage either.

"Like most retailers, we're experiencing the affects of the nation-wide coin shortage," they wrote in a statement. "We're asking customers to pay with card or use correct change when possible if they need to pay with cash. Cash is welcome at all of our stores. However, we have converted some of our self-checkout registers to card only registers."

You may be surprised to learn coins are becoming harder to find thanks to COVID-19.

READ MORE: COVID-19 pandemic leads to coin shortage across the country

Action13 found some stores are even letting customers know they are running low on change.

"When you start disabling the way people spend money, I am telling you, that is going to create more of an issue than a lot of these other things that are going on," Kenny Duncan Jr., the general manager of U.S. Coins & Jewelry said.

"With businesses shutting down, you don't have the influx of change coming in, and then that goes to the banks, and the banks don't have any change," Duncan said.

Many businesses that are open are not taking cash payments, encouraging customers to pay with credit cards.

As fewer of us have the ability to exchange coins the supply is starting to dry up, plus the Department of the Treasury minted fewer coins earlier this year to protect workers from COVID-19.

The shortage is supposed to be temporary.