Coin Shortage Prompts Meijer to Ban Cash at Self-Checkout

Pandemic slows flow of coins, drawing attention from industry groups
No cash
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Meijer has converted many of its self checkout lanes to credit/debit cards only due the national coin shortage. Those registers will still accept Meijer gift cards and EBT/SNAP cards. All staffed lanes will continue to accept cash.

“While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores. We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience,” said Meijer spokesperson Frank Guglielmi in a statement to local news

The issue of the coin shortage is a result of the pandemic closing down certain areas of the supply chain and stopping the flow of coins, noted Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during a virtual hearing with the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Several industry associations sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve calling for rapid action to address the issue. The National Grocers Association (NGA), FMI-The Food Industry Association, International Franchise Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Automatic Merchandising Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America asked Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to release more coins from the federal inventory or to increase production to meet retailers’ needs or prioritize the distribution of coins for consumer businesses.

“These industries need to efficiently process large volumes of consumer transactions every day and many of those transactions are paid in cash. A critical but largely unseen part of these businesses’ operations then is obtaining sufficient amounts of coins to be able to handle cash transactions and provide customers with change,” the letter reads.

The letter also asks for guidance from the Federal Reserve on potential retailer responses to the shortage, much like Meijer’s decision to restrict cash usage.

NGA notes that about 20% of grocery transactions are still paid for with cash. "Independent grocery serves many communities throughout the U.S. that are underbanked or unbanked, and without availability of coinage, these customers are going to be hardest hit. This is the time for the Fed to fully use its coin inventory to relieve this problem and for the Mint to redouble its efforts to ensure we replenish reserves at the Fed and at financial institutions,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of NGA.


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