East Coast Suffers from Coin Shortage
Thursday, August 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
EAST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) â€” A coin shortage has some East Coast stores asking customers: ``Can you spare a dime? Or a quarter? Or some pennies?''
Some stores are asking customers for exact change, and banks are shuffling coins around to fill orders.
The shortage is being blamed on free-spending vacationers and on people who are collecting the new state commemorative quarters instead of spending them.
The shortage is showing up around the country but is particularly noticeable on the East Coast, according to the Federal Reserve.
Fleet Bank, which has branches from Maine to New Jersey, notified customers about a shortage of coins, especially pennies, starting in mid-July. There was a paucity of pennies and other coins last summer, too.
``Maybe it's the large number of people traveling and on vacation, making a large number of smaller transactions and getting change,'' Fleet spokesman Dennis Schain said. ``It's a recent seasonal phenomenon.''
As for the commemorative quarters, the coins are being issued in the order that the states joined the Union, so the first ones all have featured East Coast states. The U.S. Mint estimates 100 million to 160 million people will collect the special-edition quarters, which will have a different design for each of the 50 states.
The Federal Reserve is working to ease the coin crunch on a case-by-case basis. The peak season for coins will probably continue until Labor Day, said Thomas Lavelle, a Fed spokesman in Boston.
``We have an ebb and flow like this that comes from time to time and we do our best to manage it,'' he said.
Fleet has advised business customers to keep coins in circulation in their stores instead of depositing them. The bank also has warned customers not to order additional coins to compensate for the shortage because increased orders may make the situation worse.
For some shoppers around East Haven, the shortage was no big deal. They said cashiers had been asking them for change for a few weeks now, and many were happy to get rid of coins weighing down their pockets and purses.
``They asked me for pennies at Xpect Discounts. The bill came to $26.13, so I gave them 13 pennies,'' said Jo Consolatore, joking that 13 might be her lucky number. ``I should have played the number that day.''