Pawnbrokers' activity increases post-quake

FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 08:45 16/08/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Tough economic times have prompted Christchurch people to turn to pawnbrokers.

Some city pawnbrokers had seen an increase in customers since the February 2011 earthquake, including tradespeople who had not been paid on time.

Michael Vincent, manager of Ezy Pawn, said he had seen more people from the building industry because they were not being paid on time for work that had been done.

"We have seen a change in the demographic," he said.

"The people coming into the shop are from all across the board now.

"They're not our usual sort of clients. People are waiting to be paid out for insurance."

Most people managed to pay off their loans and redeem the items they pawned.

Many were selling their belongings to pawnbrokers because they could not afford to put them in storage.

Parklands Pawnbrokers manager Shane Lilley, who has been in the business for nine years, said he had many new customers.

"There are a lot of first- timers who are struggling a wee bit," Lilley said.

"They haven't used a pawnbroker before. Before the earthquake, our customers were mainly regulars."

Fewer people were paying off their loans and redeeming their goods.

About 80 per cent reclaimed their pawned items before the quakes but that figure had dropped to about 70 per cent, he said.

He had seen a "huge jump" in the number of tradespeople who needed money because they were not being paid on time.

"They usually manage to pay back the money and get the goods back," he said.

The Pawn Shop manager Jan Nottingham said more people were buying second- hand goods.

While people still had money to spend, they preferred to shop around for bargains, she said.

UBS Investment Bank senior economist Robin Clements said it was hard to tell from pawnbrokers' businesses how the economy was going.

"In normal times it might be a useful indicator, but these are hardly normal times," he said.

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- The Press

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