KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The novel coronavirus pandemic is being blamed for another supply shortage — this time it’s coins.

“What’s happened is that, with the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has gotten all — it’s kind of stopped,” Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

Rep. John Rose, R-Tennessee, was the first to point out the shortage during a virtual hearing with the House Financial Services Committee.

He said many banks in his district weren’t given their normal amount of coins, and were struggling to help customers and businesses get the coins they needed.

Businesses in East Tennessee were feeling the impact of the coin shortage as well.

Weigel’s posted flyers on their doors asking customers to use exact change because the company is experiencing a coin shortage.

On the flyer, Weigel’s also stated the convenience stores would gladly buy coins from customers.

“We’re pretty desperate. We’re trying every way possible, we’re trying to get change from customers. And at some point, we’d be unable to operate, because if you can’t change a dollar, you can’t do business,” Doug Yawberry, president of Weigel’s, said.

Dave Miller, president of First Horizon Bank of East Tennessee, said the average bank customer wouldn’t notice a coin shortage, but gas stations and convenience stores were the type of businesses that would.

“You’re going to be ordering coins so that you can handle your customers, and we’re going to have a hard time getting that coin this week, than we would have, say, pre-pandemic,” Miller said.

Miller said the coin shortage was largely because of the cash flow problem the coronavirus pandemic created when the economy was shut down and consumers started to buy more online.

He said that although only 20% of all purchases were made with cash, 50% of purchases under $10 were still made with cash.

Austin Ferber, a barista at Coffee and Chocolate in Market Square, said his shop was also having a hard time getting coins ever since they reopened after the pandemic.

He said their main issue with lack of coins was because they can’t always go to the bank to get more.

On those days, the employees resort to finding coins elsewhere.

“My wife had come in and I had just run out of quarters. I had one quarter left. And actually I had her go out to my car and get more quarters just for the rest of the day and so I’ve been using change from my car,” Ferber said.

Miller said that banks for the moment were handling the disruption of coins well, but if the cash flow doesn’t improve, or if more coins aren’t made, then getting change could be a bigger problem in a couple of weeks.

How you can help with change

However, Miller said consumers can help if they wanted to.

If people have any piggy banks or coin jars at home, they could take them to the banks to get cashed.

People could also bring those coin jars to Weigel’s to get cashed.

Not too many businesses around East Tennessee were noticing an impact from the coin shortage, mainly because the majority of their transactions are electronic.

The Pilot Company said it wasn’t impacted yet by the shortage, but the company was monitoring the situation.

At this time, Pilot Company is not experiencing a shortage of coins in our travel centers across North America. Based on national trends and indications from the Federal Reserve, we are monitoring and managing the supply of coins in our stores in order to serve guests and continue to provide change when needed. As always, guests also are welcome to pay with credit card, debit card, gift card or exact change when using cash.

Anne LeZotte, Senior Manager of Communications with Pilot Company