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Stores Struggle To Make Exact Change For Customers Amid Coin Shortage Caused By COVID-19 Pandemic

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- In Maryland, some stores are beginning to tell customers they can't "make change."

COVID-19 slowed the amount of money trickling into the economy from the U.S. Mint, especially coins.

"The U.S. Mint slowed their production because fewer employees are working because of social distance measures," Nick Ruffner, a Public Relations Manager for Sheetz, said. "So retailers like gas stations and convenience stores... we both have been particularly hard hit by the coin shortage."

That means if you go to a store and pay with cash, you might not get exact change back. Businesses like Sheetz say they simply don't have coins to give.

"We have 600 store locations across six states, and each of the locations has been impacted in some way by the coin shortage," Ruffner said.

Many stores are asking customers for help, offering incentives if they bring in coins for cash.

"They needed coins, so rather than take them to the bank, we brought them in here," said David Poteete, who brought in coins, said.

But banks don't have as many coins as they need, either. So, they're asking people to crack open their piggy banks.

"Take them to your bank and hand them in and get the cash. You still have the same amount of money and we have coins to circulate out," Alicia Wade, of Valliance Bank, said.

The Sheetz store in Harford County is telling patrons they can pay with a card, their app or order items online -- all ways they won't have to psychically exchange money.

Customers can also use this time to give coins to charity.

"If they have coins they want to donate to Sheetz for The Kidz, which is a charity we run to help them have a brighter holiday season, they can do that," Ruffner said.

CBS News reports the Federal Reserve expects the shortage won't last much longer, especially as the economy opens back up.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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