Coin shortage prompts appeal from Bundesbank
TWIG - German retailers are running out of euro coins, prompting the country’s central bank to call on coin hoarders to empty their piggybanks and spend the badly-needed small change in shops.
Metro, the German supermarket chain, said Monday that it has started importing truckloads of one, two and five cent coins from Austria in an unprecedented deal with the central bank there.
Other retailers are now poised to follow suit.
"The fact is that small change is in short supply and the Bundesbank is apparently not capable of delivering a sufficient number of coins in the lowest denominations," a spokesman for ReWe, another supermarket chain, told dpa news agency.
Two weeks ago, the German Bundesbank central bank first warned consumers of the impending change crisis.
Since the launch of the euro common currency just two and a half years ago, the bank has minted about 16bn coins, but many lie unused at homes across Germany, stashed away in piggybanks or jars.
Compounding the problem, the cost of producing new coins has skyrocketed thanks to China’s voracious demand for steel.
Bank officials say the easiest way to get more coins into circulation is for shoppers to use exact change in shops — and for retailers to accept the coins without grumbling.
But that seemingly humble request may run up against stubborn resistance from Germans that often view the smaller coins as a nuisance.
"Citizens should actively use their coins," said a Bundesbank spokesperson, "Many don’t spend the smaller coins because they are too heavy, or because they collect them."
Other observers speculate that especially thrifty Germans
may be afraid to spend the small copper-colored coins because the
denominations are still difficult for some to distinguish as supermarket
clerks rush customers through lines.
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