Local businesses deal with nation-wide coin shortage

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A penny for your thoughts might be a little more valuable these days, as the country is undergoing a nationwide coin shortage.

According to Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, the shortage is due to COVID-19; As businesses closed and people stayed home, coin flow practically came to a halt. 

Now, local businesses are starting to feel the effects, with less change in their cash registers.

“Overnight it felt like we didn’t have enough actual coin in the till,” said Tracy Johnstone, a local McDonald’s franchise owner in Panama City.  “All of a sudden, the bank was not getting enough coin to fulfill a change order on an as-needed basis. It has presented a really unique and interesting problem.”

For Johnstone and the McDonald’s franchise, this problem goes further than the registers; their charity, the Ronald McDonald House, usually collects donations from change donations at the drop boxes located at their restaurants. Without the extra coins, they’re getting creative.

“When you do pay with cash, let us round that order up for you and donate that spare change to the Ronald House,” said Johnstone. “[It’s] just an awesome way to take something that’s a challenge and a negative and turn it into a positive for all the families that are at the house.”

With the click of their “round up” button on the register, it automatically counts the change to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House and a cumulative check is written at the end of the month, keeping change in the register and donations flowing.

Some other businesses and convenience stores in the area said they haven’t noticed a drop in change yet, but banks said they’re limited on the amount of coins they can currently get and distribute.

Powell said it’s a temporary issue that officials are working to fix with the United States Mint. 

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