One of the most puzzling parts to me of the entire lockdown/quarantine/pandemic in the last year was the shortage of coins in retail stores. This might not be a big deal to some people, but it was critical at my house. We save up all our change for an entire year, count it, and use that cash towards a beach vacation. The key is to use cash whenever we can, and not bust into the coins, even in case of emergency. And it's pretty much worked out that way for about 20 years. But that all came to a screeching halt in 2020.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

And it looks like we are experiencing "Part Two" in 2021. And the people at American Banker agree. According to their banking experts, "government stimulus payments, accelerated consumer spending and the threat of the COVID-19 delta variant — has stymied progress and forced retailers to resort again to asking shoppers for exact change. After lifting the limits on some coin orders by banks at the end of last year, the Federal Reserve reinstituted them in May." And Jim Gaherity, CEO of the coin-cashing machine operator Coinstar says things are moving back towards normal a little slower than anticipated. This is not good news to me.



I've even noticed that some stores are again refusing to take cash at all. Or they are making it very difficult for customers to not use a credit card. I hate this, especially when so many local businesses are charging 4% or more just to use a credit or debit card. And if I'm being honest, it's a lot easier for me to keep my spending in check when I use cash.

The United States Mint is ultimately responsible for producing coins, and the Fed is responsible for their distribution to banks. Banks can order more as needed for distribution to retail businesses. And the Fed has currently placed limits on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. So here we go again. Read more on the coin shortage from American Banker. And happy shopping, Americans. Better keep that credit card handy.



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