Concerns about a coin shortage nationally have not seemed to slow down business in Mitchell.
With the pandemic causing fewer coins to move in circulation, signage has gone up at restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses asking people to pay with credit cards or exact change.
That hasn’t been as much of an issue locally.
“It’s something we’ve heard a lot about,” said BankWest Regional President Ryan Huber. “We’ve informed our staff to be cognizant of the issue, but we don’t have a shortage at BankWest or in Mitchell.
The shortage comes from shutdowns and restrictions related to the pandemic, which then limits the opportunities for cash and coin transactions. There are enough coins out there, but people might be holding on to them because of fewer open locations that will take them and not as many in-person interactions at bank branch locations.
“There is an adequate amount of coins in the economy, but the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coins are sometimes not readily available where needed,” the U.S. Mint said in July, acknowledging that coin issues might occur until coin circulation patterns return to normal.
“For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change. We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk.”
In South Dakota, where fewer businesses have been shut down, the coin circulation has not fallen to the point of being a crisis.
“We’re sensitive to it and the fact that there might not be as much circulating out there but for us, we haven’t found it to be a major issue,” Huber said.
In Mitchell, businesses that rely heavily on coins haven’t had major issues.
Doug Wiebelhaus, who owns Mega Wash car washes and has four locations around the city, said his business has never ran short of quarters, the main type of coin used in car wash equipment.
Even then, Mega Wash is able to circulate its own coins, taking in coins for washes and sending them back out when customers need change.
“We haven’t noticed any problems with change,” he said. “The only thing we use are quarters and we recycle our quarters all of the time, so it hasn’t affected us as much.”
Stores that move all kinds of coins — pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters — are more likely to run short of one specific denomination of coin.
The U.S. Coin Task Force, a national group created earlier this year regarding the issue and representing various trade groups, estimated that there is more than $40 billion in coins already in circulation and most of it is sitting dormant in America’s 128 million households.
“As people have changed their spending habits, and coin-intensive businesses and financial institution lobbies have been less accessible, the nation’s coin is pooling in change jars, in car cup holders and in shuttered businesses, making it difficult for the businesses of this country to get the coin that they need to support cash transactions,” the task force said.
The task force recommended a more public campaign about getting the coins back into circulation.
Huber noted that his bank will sort coins for those interested in trading in loose change for bills, as the bank’s lobby remains open to customers. He said BankWest has encouraged employees to bring in any extra change to get counted.
“We have a big stockpile of coins, so we’re in good shape,” he said.