Mint’s weekly sales figures fall flat

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The U.S. Mint’s numismatic sales figures for the week ending April 23, 2017, are probably giving the Mint’s accountants a giant collective headache—but they do make for an interesting discussion of buyer behavior. Much of the excitement (for lack of a better word) seems to be an ongoing ripple effect that started with the April 4 release of the 2017 Congratulations Set. Mint News Blog readers will remember it well, with its surprise S-mintmarked American Eagle silver Proof coin. The Mint’s entire supply sold out in under two minutes, leaving a great many customers frustrated and angry.

Looking at the Mint’s weekly sales data for 2017 to date shows that retail buying patterns got interesting the week before the 2017 Congratulations Set was released. Consumers had been purchasing roughly 10 to 25 of the 2016 Congratulations Sets (16RF) per week since the first report of 2017. The week ending April 2, however, sales jumped to 462. Were the Mint’s customers worried that the 2016 sets would no longer be available after April 4? Or were they being trigger-happy as the news spread about the special ASE coin in the 2017 set?

April 4 came and went, and the 2017 Congratulations Sets, as noted, sold out in under two minutes. The Mint issued a statement that a few more of the sets would be made available as returns, order cancelations, and credit-card cancelations were processed.

The Mint skipped its next numismatic sales report, which would have covered the week ending April 9. When the April 16 report was released, we learned that a net 3,130 of the 2016 Congrats Sets sold during those two weeks. It seemed pretty clear this time that excited customers were hastily buying the 2016 sets, thinking they were getting a few of the 2017’s that could still be available.

On the current report (week ending April 23), the 2016 Congratulations Sets are newly listed as “unavailable.” No doubt the returns will be rolling in on the April 30 report, or perhaps the May 7.

This week’s report is interesting for other reasons as well, one of those being the volume of downward adjustments:

  • 2016 American Eagle 1-oz. silver Proof coins (16EA), -2,522
  • 2016 American Eagle 1-oz. silver Uncirculated coins (16EG), -2,699
  • 2017 American Eagle 1-oz. silver Proof coins (17EA), -18,820

Were these returns related to erroneous purchases during the Congratulations frenzy? Or did it just happen that the Mint chose this report to process adjustments related to ASEs? In any case, the Mint removed a total of 24,041 unit sales from the books. Given that only 18,205 items were sold, the net unit sales figure for the week was actually a negative number: -5,836. It would take a bit of digging to find the last time this happened; certainly, it’s the first time this year.

The Mint’s top-10 sellers the past week were also at a record low for 2017. For the first time this year, only one item in the entire numismatic catalog sold 1,000 or more units: the 2017 U.S. Mint Proof Set (17RG), released March 29, which sold 6,547 units for the period.

To compare the current sales report with those earlier in the year:

 Week Ending No. Products with +1k Units Sold No. of Units Sold
In Top 10 Overall
Jan. 8 5 10,892 50,065
Jan. 15 5 10,503 22,023
Jan. 22 6 39,837 46,295
Jan. 29 10 35,213 42,267
Feb. 5 5 15,898 19,955
Feb. 12 6 17,338 44,837
Feb. 19 7 58,876 65,513
Feb. 26 8 31,395 38,627
Mar. 5 11 35,339 47,346
Mar. 12 12 61,355 76,029
Mar. 19 9 20,917 26,175
Mar. 26 7 249,815 257,910
Apr. 2 9 221,654 233,031
Apr. 16* 20 168,743 203,889
Apr. 23 1 11,806 -5,836
* Report covers two weeks’ worth of sales.

The question now is whether this week’s sales figures are at a normal low point in the cycle, or much of the Mint’s customer base really is exasperated enough to give up on Mint products. To be fair, there were no new releases at all last week, and the previous week, only one item—the 2017 ATB Uncirculated Set (17AA), released April 10—debuted. The period ending March 19 had no new products that week, but it benefited from the ongoing sales of the 2017 Boys Town commemoratives from the week prior.

The Mint’s next release, the moderately priced ATB Frederick Douglass 5-ounce silver Uncirculated coin (17AK), rolls out May 2, but sales for the series haven’t been strong for a while. The current net figure for the previous 5-ounce coin, Effigy Mounds, is exactly 10 units more than it was on its first week’s sales report (March 12), when it came in at 14,363. The 1-ounce Proof gold Buffalo coin (17EL) debuts May 11, but last year’s version got off to a relatively slow start, and sales puttered on at a steady but unremarkable couple hundred a week for most of 2016.

Whatever the cause of the current malaise, it seems unlikely to lift for at least the next two or three weeks.   ❑

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Comments

  1. MarkInFlorida says

    The only gimmick the Mint needs to try is lower premiums. Bullion is a much better deal than over-priced proofs.

  2. MarkInFlorida says

    Hey, my 5 oz P Puck shipped today. No post about Pucks? Does no one care about Pucks anymore? I remember the frenzy when the 2010s came out and you could only order one set from each dealer, and the Mint made them lower the price, and APMEX had to refund $500 to each customer who bought them.

  3. Xena says

    sharks2th – thanks for the numbers. Need to copy those into a file somewhere…

    KSCO – someone posted here a little bit ago that the Douglass quarter is being called the Bob Ross. Got a good laugh out of that. Not sure how he did it, but he’s still popular today – kids today who he is from youtube. But no, I didn’t buy a Bob Ross puck.

    jp – I haven’t seen that but I’ll keep an eye out. I could use a few of those – would help the Scouts that collect quarters. In addition to Wizard, I shop here: http://www.chiefcoinandsupply.com for good prices on albums – particularly used world coin albums.

  4. sharks2th says

    @KCSO – There are at least a half dozen of us here who are doing the P and the MS69DMPL pucks. I’m waiting until I order other items to pick them up. Some of the others here may be doing the same thing. I didn’t get the Effigy P until I ordered the congrats set so my purchase was in there the week it was +10.

    Aydin has been running some of the 2016 DMPLs on true auctions the last week or so on the bay. APMEX seems to be having the best presale prices on the DMPLs so far in 2017. MCM has been a little high on their initial prices on the DMPLs so far this year.

    @Xena – I have a list of all of the ASE mintages. The only one I had wrong was the 08/07Rev and Louis passed on the number which came out of a FOIA request. I can post the entire list later if you want. There are also a few websites that have a list of the mintages.

  5. So Krates says

    I always wondered how the mintages were figured for the 08/07 Rev. If they are “errors” how do they know how many went out? I must’ve missed the comments about the FOIA request.

    Does the 10th lowest proof mintage really matter? I know the ’94 ASE proofs bring over $100 and the ’93 gets a little extra… but how about further down the list?

  6. sharks2th says

    @ So Krates – The mintages past the first half dozen are not critical, but I just wanted to list the 10 to show the variances in the mintages. All of the proofs past the lowest 10 are over 500k. Generally your key coins in a series are determined by how difficult it is to obtain them or how high the demand is for each date/mint mark of the series. The distribution can also be a factor in the selling prices. If most of the key coins are in strong hands (long term collectors), then the supply will be tight and the prices higher.

  7. So Krates says

    Thoughts about Cagcrisp’s 17RF short paper trade manifested themselves in the material world yesterday. I shorted Anadarko. Figured with a well 178 feet away, APC killed those poor guys working on a water heater in their basement in Colorado. Talk about low mintage surprises, hope there are no uncapped lines under the Denver Mint!

  8. So Krates says

    @ sharks2th – gotcha. Appreciate the list. As more time passes, like Morgans, perhaps lower down the list might be more important.

    I forgot who mentioned the 95-W set, but I see the silver eagle separated from the four gold coins all the time. Once they are graded, the cohesion of the set starts to dissipate.

  9. Joe M. says

    @ So Krates.
    All dies are inventoried and stored. If an error occurs, they can go back and look through the inventory to find out how many were used. They also look at how many coins were produced by the average die production. Proof dies usually strike up to 2,000 coins. Although die production will vary with denomination(among other factors), the average die lasts somewhere around 25,000-50,000 for business strikes…some even 75,000.
    I’m sure my numbers are off, so any corrections to current die production and storage/inventory of dies would be helpful. This info is what I remember reading almost 23 years ago…:-}

  10. Sith says

    @MarkInFlorida – I care, but not really about the “P” pucks, just the bullion. None of the designs are that attractive to me, at least not enough for me to fork over a 30% premium over spot for them.

  11. sharks2th says

    @Samuel – I collect the PCGS MS69DMPLs in the pucks (most are also “First Strike” but I do not agree with the graders using that term because it is NOT accurate). I also have a few with the Moy or Mercanti Sigs when I got a good price on them. I am doing them in PCGS mainly because the first ones I got were PCGS and another reason is the slabs are smaller than the ones NGC uses. The prices tend to be better on pucks in the NGC slabs. I have not had the silver tarnishing problem with the pucks that some people have had with PCGS slabs on the eagles and other modern silver.

    In classic coins I have some of all of the big 4 (PCGS, NGC, ANACS & ICG). I generally stay away from any slabs that are not from these 4 companies. I generally prefer raw and OGP coins, but sometimes what you’re looking to buy is slabbed, especially at coins shows or over the net. The classics I have were bought for the coin, not the holder, so I’m not hung up on which name is on the holder if I like the coin and it appears appropriately graded.

  12. Old Big Bird says

    A friend of mine received a shipping notice on the ATB puck he had ordered on enrollment.
    Problem is it is for the Douglas puck but the picture in the email is of the Roosevelt puck.
    What else can they mess up.

  13. JARHEADnFLORIDA says

    Can anyone tell me if the gold/silver ratio ever been this high, 75:1?

  14. Erik H says

    Jarhead, the gold/silver ratio has been much higher (just not this year).

  15. Dustyroads says

    Old Big Bird, I expected the mint to pull the Shawnee “S” quarters when the Effigy quarters were released, but that didn’t happen.

    JARHEADnFLORIDA , Just before the middle of the year in 2008 silver had a high of 83.73.

  16. Dustyroads says

    I can’t say if that 83.73 happened before or after the June of `08. It may have been after.

  17. cagcrisp says

    As Erik H said “much higher”

    The last time it was this high was 06/06/16 with the following prices (not far from Today’s spot):

    Gold $1,243.60
    Silver $16.37

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