Kroger and other grocery stores are no longer giving customers change due to the coin shortage sweeping across the US

Kroger and other grocery stores are no longer giving customers change due to the coin shortage sweeping across the US
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
  • Grocery store chains are taking steps to minimize or eliminate the distribution of coins amid a nationwide coin shortage.
  • Some methods include change roundups and charity donations.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on coin circulation and impacted smaller coin-reliant businesses, like laundromats.

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., and its Mariano's stores are no longer giving customers back coins as change as the US grapples with a widespread coin shortage.

Kroger is temporarily asking its customers in almost 3,000 stores across 35 states to pay with exact change. Additionally, patrons can opt to have their cash loaded onto a customer loyalty card that can be automatically applied to their next purchase.

"The Federal Reserve is experiencing a significant coin shortage that is impacting our store operations and ability to provide change," Kroger tweeted. "As a result, the company is implementing a new process for providing change to customers."

Other retailers are following similar paths. Retail giant Walmart, for example, is still allowing its customers to pay with cash but asks that they pay using credit and debit cards whenever possible. Its self-checkout registers will only allow for customers to pay with some type of card.

"Like most retailers, we're experiencing the effects of the nation-wide coin shortage," Walmart spokesperson Avani Dudhia said. "We're asking customers to pay with card or use correct change when possible if they need to pay with cash."


Some stores are taking the coin shortage a step further by using revenue and spare change and donating the proceedings to charities.

Wawa, an American convenience store and gas station chain with nearly 50 stores across Delaware, is asking patrons to round up cash purchases to the nearest dollar with the intention of donating the change to the Wawa Foundation, which supports the USO and other local charities, according to Delaware News Journal.

H-E-B, a supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas, with over 340 stores across the state and northeast Mexico, launched a Change for Clarity campaign in which customers can donate their coins at the cash register to benefit local non-profits as well as Texas food banks, ABC 7 reported.

Likewise, smaller coin-reliant businesses such as laundromats are also trying to help improve coin circulation by resorting in some cases to asking customers to bring their own leftover change or exchange coins from their piggy banks for cash, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The coronavirus has taken a toll on coin circulation, according to the Federal Reserve. Lately, the reduced pace of circulation has led to inadequate quantities of coins.


"While there is adequate coin in the economy, the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coin are not readily available where needed," the Federal Reserve said in a statement. "With establishments like retail shops, bank branches, transit authorities and laundromats closed, the typical places where coin enters our society have slowed or even stopped the normal circulation of coin."

Matt Finn, chief economist at Old National bank, told news network 14News that there is about $48 billion of coinage in the US. However, that might be difficult to come by because the U.S. Mint has slowed production of coins and fewer people are using them at places like car washes and vending machines.

"What economists hope is that when the country opens up again and businesses get back to normal, the problem should fix itself," Finn said. "But until that happens, it could get worse."