When the pandemic first hit, people understandably stopped going out and spending as much money, including places like grocery stores. 

Many businesses even closed down temporarily amidst the first initial wave, as Idahoans went into lockdown.

Because of this, the flow and circulation of coins drastically slowed down.


At the same time, the U.S. Mint slowed coin production for a few months in 2020 to reduce the exposure of the coronavirus to employees, and all of these circumstances occurring together caused a nationwide coin shortage

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash
Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash


Many banks were asking for people to trade in their coins, some even giving incentives, and businesses all across the country started asking citizens to give exact change or to use cards, because they couldn’t give coins back. 

However, this all began nearly two years ago, and it leaves Idahoans wondering: why are we still experiencing a shortage?

Because while the coin circulation has certainly improved, it is obviously still an issue.


How is this still impacting the Treasure Valley?

We’ve all seen the signs that many stores have had up, asking for people to give exact change or to use a card, but we just assumed the issue was over with.

However, that’s simply not the case.

One Boise resident recently discussed an issue she had at a local lawn store, when she couldn’t give exact change:


Elise W. is a downtown Boise bartender who gets paid with cash after every shift, so she often pays transactions with cash instead of a credit card.


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


She described going to the store to get some dog food and fertilizer for her plants yesterday, and she had cash on her because she had just gotten off of work.

Well imagine her surprise, when the cashier told her that she couldn’t accept her money because she couldn’t give her change, due to the coin shortage. 

Elise, who was frustrated and flustered because she didn’t have her wallet on her, couldn’t pay with anything else.


“Just keep the change then – I don’t need it,” - Elise said.


However, the cashier wasn’t able to do that either, because it would have thrown her till off balance. 

So what options did Elise have? 

Well, apparently none, because she had to leave her purchases behind since she couldn’t pay with exact change and she didn’t have her credit card on her.


So, why is there still a coin shortage?

The U.S. Mint has worked overtime to produce more coins and reduce the shortage. 

In fact, they were on track to “mint more coins in 2020 than in the last 20 years.” 

These days, it’s not that there’s necessarily still a shortage, it’s that people are hoarding the coins and making less purchases with cash. 

It is an issue that many believe will resolve itself soon, but like everything else related to the pandemic, it is taking longer than expected. 


So all Idahoans can do now is be patient and understanding with your cashiers, and to pay with/trade in your coins whenever possible.

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