This pandemic has caused many changes in our lives. One of the most obvious is the lack of basic items that used to be widely available.

It started with shortages in hand sanitizer, then N95 masks, and then it was the infamous toilet paper shortage of 2020. It wasn't too long before we saw bare shelves at the grocery store and shortages on ammo and firearms. We're still dealing with the last three.

The latest shortage is coins.

Perhaps you've seen a sign at a check stand that requests you to make purchases in "exact change" or use a debit or credit card.

The mint says reduced retail activity from COVID-19 has disrupted the circulation of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

A press release from the mint said, “In normal circumstances, retail transactions and coin recyclers return a significant amount of coins to circulation on a daily basis.”

“However, precautions taken to slow the spread of the virus have resulted in reduced retail sales activity and significantly decreased deposits from third-party coin processors, resulting in increased orders for newly minted coins produced by the United States Mint.”

In 2019, the Mint contributed only17% of newly-minted circulating coins, with the remainder coming from third-party coin processors and retail activity.

However, since the start of the pandemic related shutdowns, 72,842 businesses are listed on Yelp as "permanently closed", putting a major dent in coin circulation, not to mention the loss of jobs that will never return.

The Mint says if people don't begin using exact change soon, businesses may not be able to accept cash payments. They are also asking people who have coins to spend them or deposit them at financial institutions or a redemption kiosk.

To ease the pressure, the mint says it's boosting coin production. They are planning to produce 1.65 billion coins per month for the rest of 2020. In 2019, the mint struck around 1 billion coins per month.

Source: U.S. Mint, Yelp, and Dakota News Now

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