National change shortage impacting local businesses

Customers at West Michigan establishments now being asked to pay in exact change, use a card or round up their purchase price to the nearest dollar
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 16:56:25-04

WAYLAND, Mich. — A national change shortage has begun to impact local businesses and their customers here in West Michigan.

“People aren't spending their coins fast enough and it's not moving through the supply chain quickly enough,” Dr Paul Isely, Associate Dean of Grand Valley's Seidman College of Business, told FOX 17 Friday.

“So what we're seeing right now is that many businesses don't have enough coins to to make change.”

Across the state customers are starting to see signs posted around businesses asking them to either pay in exact change, use a credit or debit card or round up their purchase amount to the nearest whole dollar.

Speedway gas stations are giving customers the option to round up their purchases and donate the would-be change to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Jason Lueer lives and works in Wayland. While in line at a Speedway the other day he was taken aback when asked to round up his purchase.

“I was getting some drinks for the day. And once we got there, I paid for my for my drinks. My change was 92 cents. The guy says, I can't give you change. You need to round it up,” Lueer told FOX 17 Friday morning.

Lueer wasn't necessarily bothered by the situation, as 92 cents wont affect him financially and he supports the money going to a charity, particularly a local one, but he wanted others to be aware of it before going to check out.

"The bigger picture is 92 cents for me, it's not a big deal. 92 cents for someone that's really hurting, could be a big deal," he said.

Speedway did have a sign on their front door warning customers, but as Jason mentioned in our conversation, "there's been so many signs on the door saying you have to wear a mask, you have to do this. When you walk in and out, you're becoming numb to these things."

Dr Paul Isely says there is in fact a percentage of people hit harder by this shift in accepted payments.

“What we find is that this particular type of change in how you have to pay for things affects people who are less wealthy, who don't have access to those things," Dr Isely said.

"A larger proportion of the elderly still use more cash transactions.”

Though when the pandemic does eventually end and people are back out spending money, Dr Isely says this change shortage too shall pass.

“It isn't probably going to affect the overall macro-economy, meaning having a shortage of change doesn't keep us from spending money in the end. The vast majority of people have another system and those that don't will start getting creative in how they deal with it,” he said.

Speedway's parent company provided the following statement to FOX 17 in regards to how they are handling the national coin shortage:

"As a result of the national coin shortage due to COVID-19, Speedway is encouraging customers to use debit, credit, or gift cards for their purchases. For those customers using cash, many of our stores simply do not have change available. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. In those situations, we are giving customers the option to round up to the nearest whole dollar. The rounded-up amount will be donated to affiliated Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. All money raised stays right there in the community, benefitting local kids and their families.

Speedway has partnered with CMN Hospitals since 1991, raising more than $120 million thanks in large part to customers in our stores donating change in canisters at each register. While the coin shortage is less than ideal, the round-up campaign is a great way to help out local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals."

Customers with concerns can reach out to Speedway’s Customer Service team at 1-800-643-1948