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Coronavirus Pandemic Causing Shortages In Everything From Cash To Manufacturing Supplies

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Every time you go to the store amid the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like something has changed.

First, there was the toilet paper shortage, then the ground beef and chicken shortage. Now we've entered the days of coin, lumber, paper towels, and appliance shortages.

The coin shortage has become so common that Giant Eagle has switched some registers to card payments only, and Walmart would prefer you pay with plastic.

The nationwide coin shortage has been brought on by fewer people shopping, and the U.S. Mint slowing its production due to limited staffing.

The result? Fewer coins circulating and cash drawers running dry.

Sheetz has more than 600 stores and has not reached a point where it cannot make change for its customers. But it's getting tight and Sheetz's Nick Ruffner says they're asking customers for help.

"We're asking people to use debit and credit cards as much as possible. They can also donate their coins to Sheetz for the Kids, which is our employee-run charity that helps kids that are underprivileged have a brighter holiday season," said Ruffner.

Ruffner says the donated coins will be put into their system and a check written to the charity.

Sheetz is also pushing its digital solutions, as well as including an option on its app to pay on your phone in the store and bypass the cash register.

Coins aren't the only things in short supply. Have you tried to purchase paper towels lately? Cleaning and sanitizing have taken a toll on the paper towel aisle. Toilet paper and ground beef have recovered, but paper towels are in short supply.

Whether you refer to it as soda, soft drink or pop, there's been a dramatic shift on that aisle of the grocery as well.

Giant Eagle says the soft drink companies are focusing on their core brands because the aluminum can industry can't keep up with demand. With so many people at home, the consumption of those drinks is up more than 30 percent.

So manufacturers are having to choose what they can. There are signs in the store explaining products like Pepsi Max are temporarily in short supply, and other products like Dr. Pepper Cherry and Diet A&W Rootbeer are obvious by their absence.

People being at home is also taking its toll on the appliance business. With consumers stocking up to minimize trips to the store, more people want that basement refrigerator or a stand-alone freezer.

Good luck finding a freezer.

Matt Hillebrand's family owns Don's Appliances, and he says the problem is not just an issue of demand.

"As the pandemic goes through the population, it's impacting manufacturing capabilities all over the world," said Hillebrand. "Because we are a global economy, parts are sourced from all over the world and manufacturing has crawled to a very slow pace and orders are not anywhere near being filled by the manufacturers."

Hillebrand says the items shortest supply are, "Freezers are short and on an 8- to 12-week backorder. Refrigerators side by side and top-mount refrigerators are very short in supply."

"I would not be as particular about an appliance today. Find something that works. It may not have all the features you want but find something that is close to what you want and buy it," Hillebrand added.

There is also a lumber shortage slowing down construction. Not only is wood in short supply, so are the things made from it like cabinets, windows and doors. The industry blames the issue on coronavirus working requirements that have slowed or prevented production.

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