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Signs of an economic turnaround are showing up at some Georgia pawn shops. - ALBANY, GA (WALB)
They're often a good indicator of economic prosperity because many people use them like banks for loans or cash advances.
For the last year, pawn shop owners say most of their customers have been pawning items to get quick cash. There's still a lot of that happening, but store owners say they're starting to more shoppers looking for bargains on items many would consider luxuries.
A large number of customers spending money has been rare during the recession. Most of their customers have been pawning their items to get by.
Many people are still pawning items. Some shops have become more selective, taking only the newest and best name brand items. But store owners say the increase of customers spending money is the first positive economic sign they have seen in months.
The store's redemption rate has been close to 70% recently, meaning most people are able to pay back their loans and recover their pawned items.
Pawn Shops Attract More Customers
Glowing third quarter results from EZCorp (EZPW)on Thursday followed similar news from Cash America (CSH) earlier in the day, hinting that the sudden restriction of credit from banks is pushing more consumers to their local pawn shop. First Cash Financial Services (FCFS) had the same story on Wednesday.
EZ Corp reported a net income of $20 million, which was up 39 percent from the same quarter a year ago. US pawn lending drove a lot of that gain. Operating income rose 36 percent in domestic stores. Granted, EZCorp bought 13 new stores, but according to their conference call, most of those new stores were only integrated during the last part of the year. So, as bright as things are for EZCor, it may get even brighter.
It is less a...