The supply chain issues have improved, although Fisher said there are still “pockets where they say it’ll take two weeks to ship, rather than two days.” But while newly minted bars and coins are easy to source, convincing sellers to part with older coins is proving difficult. “If someone wants to buy 100 George V sovereigns, usually it would be quite easy to source them,” Fisher said. Now, though, the rising value of gold and the “uncertainty about the value of fiat currency,” Fisher said, is making people reluctant to part with their coins. “I’d have to tell the customer: ‘I can get them for you, but the price will be 5% higher.’ It’s an interesting dynamic, and I don’t think it’s ending any time soon.”

Americans bought more gold during the pandemic

Like Fisher, North American gold retailers have been having a bumper pandemic. Last November and December, the Canadian firm Kitco Metals saw a 50% spike in sales compared to the same period in 2019 and 2018. Stefan Gleason, the president of Money Metals Exchange, a US dealer in precious metals, saw demand for gold double from Nov. 2019 to Nov. 2020—and double again from Nov. 2020 to Nov. 2021.

Gleason doesn’t spot a seasonal pattern to purchases yet, though. “More Americans are buying gold around the holiday season this year than last year,” he said, “but it’s hard for me to attribute that to anything besides the general uptrend in demand.”

Bart Kitner, the president of Kitco, is also cautious about attributing the winter’s surge in buying exclusively to gift-giving. In the summer of 2020, gold was


record prices

. By Nov. 2020, prices had cooled a little—a combination of events, Kitner said, that often leads to investor buying. And inevitably, investors looking at gold as an asset will outspend gift-givers, making the latter hard to spot within any larger surge in purchasing.

“People who buy gold as gifts probably would not spend more than $1,000 per purchase, and I think I’m being generous with that,” Kitner said. “Investors, on the other hand, will easily buy bars and coins for anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 at a time. Approximately 5-10% of gold investors will spend upwards of $500,000 on bullion.” Kitco does sell a line in gifts and collectibles, and sales in that category also increased by 50% between Nov.-Dec. 2019 and Nov.-Dec. 2020. Kitner expects his 2021 holiday season to be less heated than last year’s. But given that gold is still selling for nearly $400 per ounce more than it was just before the pandemic, retailers will still—relatively speaking—have very happy holidays after all.

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