Buddy, can you spare a dime? Or a quarter, or a nickel, or a penny? Supermarket giant Kroger (KR -0.49%) is no longer giving coins as change at many of its stores and will require customers who pay in cash to either have exact change or donate the difference to its Zero Hunger Zero Waste foundation.

Because the coronavirus pandemic has apparently created a shortage of coins in circulation, the largest U.S. supermarket chain is encouraging customers to use debit or credit cards to pay for their orders. Customers can also opt to have the change loaded onto their loyalty cards and have it automatically applied to their next purchase.

Spilled change jar

Image source: Getty Images.

Flip a coin

Forget toilet paper and Lysol disinfecting spray, the Federal Reserve announced last month it would begin rationing coin shipments based on historical ordering volumes by banks. It is also asking financial institutions to order only as much coin as they actually need.

The Fed says there are two reasons for the shortage: Coin deposits have declined dramatically at banks during the COVID-19 outbreak, and due to measures implemented by the U.S. Mint to protect the health of its employees, the production of coins is also lower than normal.

Kroger operates almost 3,000 stores in 35 states and began posting signs in its stores advising shoppers of the change in policy. Other retailers have also begun asking customers to use exact change when shopping.

The Federal Reserve believes that as the economy opens more broadly, the shortage will eventually sort itself out.