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Alpena businesses mostly shrug off national coin shortage

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Derek Voorhees, left, hands change to Shawn Baumgart, who was making a purchase at the BP gas station in Alpena on Wednesday. There is a coin shortage across the country, but it appears few businesses in Alpena have been impacted significantly.

ALPENA — Businesses around the state are adjusting to a national coin shortage forcing stores to accept only credit card or debit card payments or exact change.

In Alpena, however, it appears the shortage is having little impact.

“I haven’t really heard of anything to this point,” Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce President Adam Poll said. “I’ll get more details about any issues we may have soon.”

The Federal Reserve revealed last month that the coronavirus pandemic had significantly disrupted the supply chain and circulation patterns for America’s coins. To make matters worse, the U.S. Mint has slowed production because of measures meant to protect workers amid the crisis, while coin deposits from banks have also fallen in the past few months.

In Alpena, some stores are asking customers to pay as much of their total as possible with coins to help restock cash registers.

For others, however, it is business as usual, with no changes in operations necessary.

At Meijer in Alpena this week, self checkout lines were only accepting credit and debit card payments, and customers were asked for exact change when passing through manned cashier lines.

At Neiman’s Family Market, there hasn’t yet been any need to alter operations, owner Hal Neiman said.

He credited MBank for keeping the coin supply rolling in and out of the customer’s pockets.

Neiman said he has noticed there has been an increase in people returning change to one of the vending machines at the store that hands out dollars in exchange for coins.

“People have really been coming in to use the CoinStar machine, so I know that there is beginning to be coins pumped back into the system,” Neiman said. “As far as the store goes, we are doing fine, and the bank has been able to supply us what we need without any issue, so far.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday the shutdowns meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have raised concerns about circulation of coins, which the Fed’s 12 regional banks are in charge of supplying to commercial banks, according to USA Today.

“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of funds through the economy has stopped,” Powell said during a virtual hearing with the House Financial Services Committee. “We are working with the Mint and the reserve banks and as the economy reopens we are starting to see money move around again.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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