The Oregon Bankers Association (OBA) is asking consumers to empty out their piggy banks to help small businesses facing coin shortages resulting from pandemic-related shutdowns.
When retail establishments closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the rate of coin recirculation slowed significantly, according to a release from the agency.
Consumers migrated to online shopping and the use of debit and credit cards to avoid physical contact associated with using cash.
Coins that would have been returned in change were no longer being circulated back into the system.
Recirculated coin represents more than 80% of the total supply. The rest of the supply is met by new coin production.
As businesses have reopened, demand for coin has increased, but a large portion of coins remain with consumers.
“In a normal period of time, more than 4 billion coins are deposited — or recirculated — each month,” said OBA President and CEO Linda Navarro. “Beginning in April, less than 2 billion are being recirculated.”
She said there is adequate coin in the economy.
“However, the slowed pace of circulation means that a sufficient amount of coin is not readily available where needed. We need to jumpstart recirculation of coins,” she said.
Oregonians can help by depositing their spare change at their local bank or a coin-cashing machine, and by using exact amounts when making purchases.