MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A nationwide coin shortage is hitting some of the nation's largest retailers, like Walmart and Kroger, and they're asking customers to pay in exact change or use a credit card.
Earlier this spring, the U.S. Mint halted production of coins, and with many businesses shut down, there are simply fewer coins in circulation.
The coin shortage has some people worried they won’t be able to do their essentials. One of those essentials is public laundry, which is run by change. Most people, like Harold Wiggins, use only coins for the machines at a laundromat.
"I was a little worried because you definitely coins to wash your clothes," Wiggins said.
Like many of us, Wiggins has been pinching his pennies lately, but he can't go without washing his clothes. He's afraid the coin shortage will limit his loads of laundry.
"This shortage is going to hurt just like this pandemic is hurting, but it’s just a matter of time before it has an effect on everybody," Wiggins said.
Mike Leake, the owner of Laundry Supercenter in Hickory Hill, did feel the effects of the shortage but said his customers shouldn't worry. He says about 95% of his customers use coins to operate the machines, but he does have an app people can use with their credit card.
"I ran shorter on coins than what I normally have, but in the last two or three weeks it’s actually picked all back up and I don’t know why," Leake said.
However, no matter a shortage, pandemic, or recession, Leake said laundromats keep going because people always need to wash their clothes.
"I think we’re all pinching pennies because not everybody is back at work, but this is an essential business," Leake said. "Laundromats are an essential business, so we haven’t missed a beat."
More coins are anticipated to be back in circulation soon, but it's only a matter of time before we see that change.
"Depends on the government," Leake laughed. "If they mint more coins I’ll be happy and we’ll all be happy."