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Kroger changes ‘change’ policy

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK, CBS) – Don’t expect to receive change in coins when you go to the grocery store.

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., has said it will stop giving customer coin change, citing the nationwide shortage of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in circulation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic, said the coin shortage is not a Kroger issue, but a nationwide challenge all retailers are facing.

The Federal Reserve is experiencing a significant coin shortage across the U.S., resulting from fewer coins being exchanged and spent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many retailers and businesses, we are adjusting to the temporary shortage in several ways.

Customers can switch their payment type (e.g., use debit or credit vs. cash), and through our upgraded technology, we can now load coin change to their loyalty card for use during the next shopping trip, provide coin change at a lane with coins available or round up their order to support The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, a public charity committed to creating communities free of hunger and waste.

We remain committed to providing our customers with an uplifting shopping experience and the freedom and flexibility to choose their payment method during this unprecedented time.

Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic

The company, which operates nearly 3,000 grocery stores in 35 states, has posted signs at many of its stores indicating the change in policy. Kroger is asking customers paying with cash to use exact change. Alternatively, patrons may donate what they are owed in coins to its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, an initiative aimed at eliminating hunger in the U.S. 

Kroger customers can also chose to have their change loaded onto a customer loyalty card and be automatically applied to their next purchase. Patrons may continue using credit and debit cards and avoid any cash hassles altogether, the company said Monday.

The coin shortage in the U.S. is one of many unexpected effects of the coronavirus. The Federal Reserve, which manages coin production and distribution, disclosed in June that it is facing low coin inventories partly due to disruption to the coin supply chain.

Workers at the U.S. Mint, which makes the country’s coins, are operating at a reduced production rate because of precautionary measures taken to protect them from the virus. Coins are also accumulating in the homes — and pockets — of people leery of going out in public.

Other grocers have implemented similar policies in light of the unusual shortage, including Wawa, a chain of 850 convenience stores that has also asked patrons to pay with exact change. 

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