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MERCHANTS FIND PENNIES IN SHORTAGE.

Byline: Bill Bergstrom Associated Press

A penny saved is a penny earned, but too many pennies saved is a big problem for the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia.

Some area stores have been asking customers to dig for exact change as their cash drawers have run short of pennies in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, stores and banks have sharply increased their orders for pennies, though no one can point to a reason for a shortage except the accumulations that pile up on dressers, in jars and in piggy banks, said Federal Reserve Bank spokesman Bob McCarthy.

``People do not take time to put pennies back in their pocket,'' McCarthy said Wednesday. ``Everyone hoards.''

As area merchants feel the crunch, some have posted notes at cash registers asking customers for exact change.

Chris McDowell, manager of a downtown Wawa Food Market, said he has run short of pennies several times in the past two weeks, but customers have helped the cashiers cope.

Sometimes a cashier will return a little extra money to make the change come out even. At other times a customer will hand over a dollar for a 98-cent item and wave away the change, he said.

McDowell said he understood the tendency to pile up pennies.

``I have a five-gallon jug at home that I would say is three-fourths full of pennies. I just don't want to wrap them,'' he said.

The Federal Reserve Bank distributed 700 million pennies to financial institutions in eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey and Delaware from January through May of this year, a 22 percent jump from the 575 million distributed in the same period last year, McCarthy said.

In addition, banks are not sending as many pennies as usual back to the Federal Reserve, worsening the pinch, McCarthy said.

CAPTION(S):

PHOTO Although the Philadelphia mint produces 40 million pennies a d ay, the region around the city has been experiencing a dearth of coins.

Dan Loh/Associated Press
COPYRIGHT 1999 Daily News
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 4, 1999
Words:326
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