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Coin shortage means no more cash payments at some stores

A lack of physical cash spending during the coronavirus pandemic has prompted some retailers to ration their change.

Meijer won’t accept physical cash payments at its self-checkout lanes for the near future. That’s because low spending during the pandemic shutdown means they don’t have the coins they need to give change.

It’s a nationwide problem. Shoppers, wary of contracting COVID-19, opted to use credit or debit cards over the past few months.

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At the same time, the U.S. Mint slowed production of coins in order to implement measures to protect their employees.

Stores that do lots of business in cash, such as grocery stores, are having to restrict the number of cash transaction they do. That could be especially onerous to low-income people, who are less likely to have access to debit or credit cards.

The National Grocers Association (NGA) estimates that cash represents 43% of payments made by people earning less than $25,000.

“These Americans will be at the greatest risk of having their normal purchases disrupted if the shortage of coins is not addressed quickly,” they wrote in a letter they sent to the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve.

At Meijer, shoppers still have the option to pay with cash. They just have to go to a checkout lane with a teller to do so.