LA CROSSE, WIS — The coronavirus pandemic has caused yet another unexpected consequence: a shortage of coins for cash transactions. Now, many consumers are having to adapt.
Kwik Trip – the area’s largest convenience store chain – now asks their customers to pay with a card if they can, hoping to avoid an awkward situation where they do not have enough of the right coins to give consumers correct change. However, in addition to the gas station giant, the shortage is also hitting a small sect of patrons the hardest.
“There’s a percentage of people who typically pay at Kwik Trip – or Walgreens, for that matter – in nothing but nickels and pennies, stopping only to count them when they arrive at the register and not a moment before,” Kwik Trip employee Gavin Tantricnuggs said. “Now that we are running out of coins all over the country, they’ve had to switch to another method.”
Eyewitnesses say these seemingly ever present Kwik Trip patrons have turned to sifting through a gigantic collection of debit cards, rather than coins, to make similar purchases.
“It takes roughly the same amount of time… longer if they have to find their Rewards card,” Tantricnuggs added.
Early reports indicate that the majority of cards sifted through – about 97% – are already expired but were just left inside wallets that until recently were bursting at the seams.
“With little to no coins in their wallets, that has left a lot of space for extra debit cards,” Tantricnuggs said. “They don’t notice they were left in there and expired because their wallets no longer look like they are nine months pregnant with the US Mint’s babies.”
Both Kwik Trip and Walgreens indicated that consumers should still expect wait times of about 5 – 160 minutes, depending on if coupon usage or scratch lotteries are being attempted.
La Crosse Times Staff contributed to this article.