What’s behind the coin shortage?

Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 8:15 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Some people and local businesses may be getting short-changed because of a coin shortage.

Local experts say it’s one of the lingering effects of the pandemic.

More people are turning to plastic to make their purchases, causing a slowdown in the amount of coins floating through banks and businesses.

“There’s not a coin shortage, there’s really more of a lack of coins in circulation,” said Marshall Clay, Partner & Senior Advisor at The Welch Group.

He said there’s been a trend toward cashless transactions for a while now, and when the pandemic hit, people turned to credit cards, buying more online.

It’s also cleaner than handling cash.

“The U.S. Mint had to reduce their ability to actually produce the coins, and then you had a reduction of actual cash being circulated through the mom and pop stores,” Clay explained.

Clay said what we’re seeing now, as more businesses reopen, is the mint trying to play catch up, restricting the amount of new coins it releases into circulation.

“A lot of business, a lot of small businesses are asking their customers to either purchase with credit card or do certain things that sort of reduce their need to provide change to them,” Clay said.

He added that it may be harder for the average person to get a large amount of coins from the bank, but you can help the shortage by dumping your old coins at the super market and other stores and also paying with exact change.

“I would anticipate that that’s going to get better as this pandemic plays itself out over the course of time. More people who pay cash and pay with coins will start frequenting places and more coins will get into circulation and the problem won’t be as bad as it is now,” Clay said.

Financial experts said we’re still a long way off from going completely cash free in the country because there is still a significant portion of the population that only uses cash.

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